- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Sgt. Elijah J. Rao
Died December 5, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
26, of Lake Oswego, Ore.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Dec. 5 in Alin Gar district, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
Joined Army after 9/11 attacks
The Associated Press
Elijah Rao, described by his grandmother as always “gentle, kind and loving,” carried a Bible with him everywhere he went.
“He had a heart of gold,” said grandmother Carrol Rao.
Rao, 26, died Dec. 5 in Nuristan, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was hit by a bomb. He was a meteorological equipment repairman assigned to Fort Carson, Colo.
Rao was born in Forest Grove, Ore., and graduated from West Linn High School in 2001. He listed nearby Lake Oswego, Ore., as his hometown.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he enlisted in the Army. Rao completed two Iraq tours, and deployed to Afghanistan in June.
“I know he was doing what he wanted to do,” said his mother, Sharon Hauerken. “He would turn around and go back to Afghanistan if he had to.”
Rao is survived by his wife, Leah; 1-year-old daughter, Eliana; his father, Franklin Rao; his mother and stepfather, Sharon and Don Hauerken; a brother, Gabriel Rao; and a sister and brother-in-law, Cicily and Jeremiah Ulrich.
“I’m so grateful for our daughter,” Leah Rao said. “Elijah isn’t what you see here today. He’ll be there in heaven waiting for us. I’ll be with my husband again.”