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Army Spc. Ja’mel A. Bryant

Died September 27, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

22, of Belleville, Ill.; assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; died Sept. 27 in Baghdad of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident while on patrol in Wahida, Iraq.

Late Ill. soldier embraced music

The Associated Press

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — A 22-year-old soldier from southern Illinois who died in a vehicle accident in Iraq is being remembered as a music-loving, McGyver-type who joined the Army two years ago to be a better man.

The Defense Department says Spc. Ja’mel Bryant of Belleville died Saturday while on patrol in Wahida, Iraq.

Bryant was part of the 40th Engineer Battalion in the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Baumholder, Germany.

Bryant’s mother says her son taught himself to play the piano and joined the Army to change his life for the better. He recently promised to take her to “The Price is Right” and Paris if she lost 20 pounds, something she’s been trying to do.

‘He was better than gold’

The Associated Press

Once Army Pfc Jamel A. Bryant and his family were at an opera when Bryant saw a little boy making a fuss and decided to talk him out of it.

“He talked to the little boy and told him that he used to be like that,” Bryant’s grandmother, Barbara Eiland, said. “The little boy apologized and the mother turned around and thanked Jamel.”

Bryant, 22, of Belleville, Ill., died Sept. 27 of injuries from a vehicle accident in Wahida. He was assigned to Baumholder, Germany.

He joined the Army in 2006 because he wanted to change his life.

“He wanted to be a better man,” Bryant’s mom, Cecilia Eiland, said. “And he already was. He was very respectful to everyone. He didn’t care who they were or where they were from. He was better than gold.”

Bryant loved music and he loved children, and often passed candy out to children in Iraq, said his brother, Antonio: “He was always trying to be a mentor to another child.”

Bryant taught himself how to play the piano and recently produced a rap song about the troubles he had growing up in order to help other children.

He also is survived by his father, Antonio Bryant Sr., and his fiancee, Rochelle Jumper.

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