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Army Spc. Robert M. Friese

Died April 29, 2011 Serving During Operation New Dawn

21, of Chesterfield, Mich.; assigned to 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 29 in Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket-propelled grenade.

Community turns out for funeral of slain soldier

The Associated Press

HARRISON, Mich. — To residents in the small mid-Michigan community of Harrison, Army Pfc. Robert Friese was a hero twice over.

Friese and a friend pulled a neighbor from a burning house as a teen in 2008, a year before he enlisted in the military.

"They weren't able to carry me so they dragged me out then carried me down a snowy icy hill and gave me their jackets as the ambulance and fire department came," Ethel Hunt told the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant Saturday. "(Friese) was a very nice young man. There aren't many people like him anymore. A lot of people would have seen a fire and kept going. I felt very bad when he died."

Hundreds of people in the town, about 60 miles northwest of Saginaw, gathered Saturday along the funeral procession route for the 21-year-old Friese. He died April 29 after his unit was attacked by insurgents with a rocket-propelled grenade in Al Qadisiyah province in Iraq.

Trees along the route were adorned in yellow ribbons. Yellow balloons were released into the sky as the procession passed.

"There is nothing bad you can say about Robert. He was a brother, a father, an uncle and a best buddy," longtime friend Ron Frazier told the newspaper. "He was put here to care, protect and keep us together. That's what he really did. He helped us get through hard times."

Friese, a 2007 graduate of Harrison High School, was named Hero of The Year for 2008 for rescuing Hunt and joined the military the following year as an M1 armor crewman.

He was assigned to Troop I, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, and deployed in 2010 to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

"He was a hometown kid and everybody was proud of him," Harrison resident Dan Wilhelm said. "He meant a lot fighting for freedom and things that make America what it is. He paid the ultimate price."

The Pentagon said Friese was a recipient of the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.

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