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Army Spc. Daniel A. Leckel

Died July 25, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Medford, Ore.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died July 25 in Baghdad of wounds sustained from enemy small-arms fire.

Oregon soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

ROSEBURG, Ore. — An Oregon soldier has been killed in Iraq, according to friends and family.

Daniel Leckel, 19, a 2005 Glendale High School graduate, died from small-arms fire in southern Baghdad, said Steve Prock, Glendale’s varsity football and former baseball coach.

Leckel served with the Army and was based out of Fort Riley, Kan. He is the 96th person in the U.S. military with Oregon ties to die in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office.

Prock said he first heard July 25 that Leckel may have been killed, but he could not confirm it.

“We went to bed that night, crossing our fingers, hoping it wasn’t true,” Prock said.

The following day, he contacted Leckel’s older sister, Tiffany, who told him her family was notified the previous evening that Leckel had been killed in Iraq.

The death had not been listed by July 27 on the Department of Defense Web site.

Leckel served as manager of Glendale’s football and baseball teams.

“He was my right-hand man,” Prock said.

Parents of Oregon casualty say they tried to discourage him

The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — In the fall of 2005, Daniel Leckel told his parents he was dropping out of college to join the Army.

They knew his motives were right — he wanted to serve his country and make money to help pay for his education.

But “we tried to discourage him,” said his stepfather, Richard LeCrone, a disabled Vietnam veteran who lives in Grants Pass. “I’ve been there, and done that, and I didn’t want him to go.”

On July 25, when LeCrone and Leckel’s mother, Cathy LeCrone, heard knocks on the door, their stomachs sank.

An Army chaplain was on the stoop. “We opened the door and saw him, and we knew,” said Cathy LeCrone. “We just knew.”

The chaplain told them Leckel, 19, had been killed in small-arms fire in southern Baghdad.

Born in Portland, Leckel moved to Glendale in middle school and graduated from Glendale High in 2005. He spent a semester at Rogue Community College and hoped to become a sports writer, but in late 2005 he put those dreams on hold.

In January 2007, Leckel was sent to Iraq. He wrote his parents detailed accounts of his life there, describing the dangers of Baghdad but also the fun.

“One Iraqi family invited him to dinner, and he wrote us everything he ate,” his stepfather said. “They had rice and lamb stew and pita bread. He seemed to like it.”

Leckel’s MySpace profile has a photo of children waving. Recently he asked his parents to send him candy to hand out to Iraqi kids. The LeCrones shipped 6 pounds of sweets to Baghdad.

Richard LeCrone said Leckel told his family that he loved the brotherhood of his unit. “He always liked being part of a team,” LeCrone said. “And those squads are teams.”

The LeCrones are trying to heal, but they’re plagued by near-constant regret. Richard LeCrone remembers one of Leckel’s dreams that now will never be realized. “He loved the Atlanta Braves and he always wanted to get back there to see one of their games,” LeCrone said, his voice trailing off.

“He was a great kid,” he said. “He deserved better than this.”

Glendale mourns fallen soldier

The Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ore. — On what Gov. Ted Kulongoski described as “an unimaginably difficult day,” more than 300 mourners crowded into the Glendale High School gym to remember Army Spc. Daniel Leckel, a teenager killed by small-arms fire in Baghdad.

Leckel, who would have turned 20 later this month, was the third Oregonian killed in Iraq in July and the 96th with strong Oregon ties to die in the wars of the Middle East.

In an interview before the August 4 ceremony, Kulongoski, a former Marine, noted a small-town connection in recent military deaths.

“This is the 96th kid from Oregon, and most of them are from small towns,” Kulongoski told the Mail Tribune newspaper of Medford. “It’s the sacrifices being borne by a small number. I want citizens to see that we all lose in this.

“Oregon loses a soldier, Glendale loses a citizen, parents lose a child.”

Leckel was eulogized as a young man who loved sports and looked for ways to serve others — both in the military and in the southern Oregon town of Glendale, where the streets were adorned with American flags.

Born in Portland, Leckel moved to Glendale in middle school and graduated from Glendale High in 2005. He spent a semester at Rogue Community College and hoped to become a sports writer. But he left school to serve his country and make money to pay for his education.

As the service began, Leckel’s body lay in a flag-shrouded casket in a high school gym festooned with championship banners.

Football coach Steve Prock highlighted Leckel’s desire to serve by recalling how he became the manager of the football team after suffering an injury during his sophomore year.

“He just wanted to be part of a team,” Prock said. “He was all heart.”

The Rev. Dan Fleming, who officiated, read the 23rd Psalm and read from Ecclesiastes about there being a time to kill and a time to heal. He said Leckel’s life would have more impact than the lives of many people who live 70 years.

“Daniel is going to get a big hug in heaven,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr. presented Leckel’s family with Leckel’s Bronze Star for bravery and a Purple Heart. Family members sat in front during the service and followed the casket, soldiers and a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” out of the gym for the short ride to the Glendale Cemetery.

At the cemetery, Leckel’s mother, Cathy LeCrone, wept audibly as she was given the folded flag from the casket and the body was lowered into the ground.

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