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‘He wasn’t a quitter’

FORT LEWIS — Cpl. Brian Chevalier was eulogized Tuesday as a young man who led by example, both in the Army and in his personal life.

Chevalier, an infantryman assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, was killed last Wednesday when a homemade bomb went off near his Stryker vehicle during combat operations in the Diyala province northeast of Baghdad in Iraq.

Chevalier’s memorial occurred the day the Iraq War entered its fifth year. Capt. Matthew James, his former company commander, recalled when another young leader told Chevalier, 21, and other soldiers they didn’t have to complete an assigned task. The corporal quietly ignored the instruction and did the task anyway.

While other soldiers grumbled about their deployment, James said, Chevalier “decided the Army was just what he wanted and re-enlisted for six years.”

Chevalier — pronounced CHEV-a-leer — joined the Army in August 2005 after earning his GED and working numerous jobs both to provide for his daughter, 5-year-old Taylor, and to pay for college to become a physical therapist, said Maj. Robert Bennett, commander of the brigade’s rear detachment.

“He demonstrated leadership through his actions despite his junior grade and experience,” Bennett told mourners. “When something had to get done, he did it without complaint, and he did it expertly.”

Lt. Col. Chris Cieply, the rear detachment’s chaplain, added: “He wasn’t a quitter. He believed in the motto ‘the best of the best,’ and he aimed higher every time.”

Chevalier, known as Chevy, enjoyed fishing, working on cars and spending time with his family. His hometown was Athens, Ga.

He died during combat operations a day after his 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment moved from Baghdad to the Diyala province to fight insurgents who had fled from the capital during a security crackdown there.

A homemade bomb hit the Stryker vehicle he was riding in, and then insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades in unison at the wreckage, according to an Associated Press report. The other nine soldiers in the vehicle were injured, but six returned to duty after receiving treatment, the report says.

The memorial for Chevalier at a Fort Lewis chapel was the first at the Army post since late January. He is the 17th soldier from the brigade to die in Iraq since the brigade returned there last summer, Bennett said.

Today, the Army post will hold a memorial service for Anthony Kaiser, a 27-year-old military policeman from Narrowsburg, N.Y., who was posthumously promoted to specialist. He was assigned to the 571st Military Police Company.

Kaiser is the 100th soldier assigned to Fort Lewis who has been killed since the start of military operations in October 2001 — seven in Afghanistan, 91 in Iraq and two in the Philippines.

Separately, Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Auchman died in Iraq in November 2004 while assigned to a Fort Lewis unit.

Chevalier, who was divorced, is survived by his daughter; his mother, June Sager; his father, Ricky; and his brother, Dustin. His mother is arranging to have him buried in Ohio, next to his best friend, who died of cystic fibrosis, Cieply said.

Christian Hill covers the city of Lacey and military for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5427 or chill@theolympian.com.

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