Monday, March 1, 2010

Spec. Bobby Justin Pagan

Bobby Justin Pagan was born and raised in East Austin and died on February 13, 2010, at the age of 23, in Zhari province, Afghanistan.  He was killed while on foot patrol when a suicide killer rode a motorcycle up to the patrol and detonated an explosive device.  Also killed in the explosion were Staff Sgt. John A. Reiners, 24, of Lakeland, Florida and Sgt. Jeremiah T. Wittman, 26, of Darby, Montana.

Bobby had graduated from Anderson High School in Austin, Texas, where he was known as a fun loving jokester with an infectious smile.  After graduation he worked for a  time at an automobile dealership, and joined the Army in 2008.

At the time of his death, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

He was scheduled to return home in a matter of weeks for his mid-tour leave, bringing with him his fiancée, a soldier in the same unit, to introduce her to his family.

Instead, he returned home on February 24, in a flag draped coffin, on a chartered jet airplane. 

When the plane arrived at the Austin-Bergstrom International airport that afternoon, Patriot Guard Riders were on hand to salute yet another fallen soldier.  The Riders stood at attention and saluted as the coffin was transferred from the plane to the waiting funeral hearse.  The Riders then escorted the hearse to the Mission Funeral Home in east Austin.

On the morning of February 26, a contingent of Patriot Guard Riders escorted that hearse, lead by officers of the Austin Police Department, to the Santa Julia Catholic Church, for funeral services.  As the hearse arrived, the sidewalk was lined by more Patriot Guard Riders, holding American flags, to welcome the arriving family and friends.

All in attendance stood at attention, and saluted, as the flag draped casket was removed from the hearse and carried into the church by an Army honor guard.

At the conclusion of the services, the funeral party traveled to the Assumption Cemetery for final interment and the rendering of formal military honors.  A rifle detail fired a volley of three shots, representing Honor, Duty and Country.  Taps was played by an Army bugler.  The American flag, that had draped the casket, was folded into a tight triangle and presented to Bobby’s mother, by a Brigadier General, on behalf of the United States Army and a grateful nation.

Spec. Bobby Justin Pagan was then laid to rest in a custom casket, its lid painted burnt orange and emblazoned with the emblems of his beloved Texas Longhorns and the United States Army.

Left to cherish his memory are his mother, four sisters, three brothers, his fiancée and

numerous other dear family and friends.

With thanks to the Austin American-Statesman for biographical and historical information.

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