Family mourns soldier's death

Cpl. Brian L. Chevalier, 21, was a problem-solver and a father who loved serving in the Army and planned to re-enlist, his family in Ohio said.

Chevalier, stationed with the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), died March 14 in Iraq after an explosive device struck the armored Stryker vehicle he was in, the Department of Defense reported Friday. The nine others in the vehicle were injured.

"He was here in September and he was telling us that Iraq wasn't all bad things. He said there were good things happening in Iraq," his stepmother, April Pennington of Crooksville, Ohio, said Friday. She said she and her stepson were close even though "stepmoms aren't 'cool.' "

"He was an outgoing boy," she said. "A problem-solver. Never got in trouble."

Chevalier grew up in Athens, Ga., with his mother, Jane "Fonda" Segar, but the majority of his family is in Ohio, Pennington said. He had nine uncles from the state, and he was close to both of his parents, she said.

"He and his dad looked almost like twins," she said.

Chevalier, who was divorced, also had a 5-year-old daughter, Taylor, his stepmother said.

Chevalier enlisted in the Army in August 2005 and arrived at Fort Lewis in January 2006, said Fort Lewis spokesman Bob Reinert. The 3rd Brigade left for Iraq last summer.

The Associated Press reported from Baqouba, Iraq, that the armored Stryker vehicle that Chevalier was in had been struck by an improvised explosive device, and insurgents emerged from hiding to fire rocket-propelled grenades in unison at the wreckage. The nine other crew members in the vehicle were wounded; six later returned to duty, according to the AP.

Capt. Matt James, Chevalier's former company commander, said the young soldier showed uncommon maturity even when he arrived at the unit.

Chevalier enlisted in the Army after trying other jobs and loved it, Pennington said.

"He wanted more out of his life," she said. "He wanted to make everybody proud, and he did."

Along with his parents and daughter, Chevalier is survived by his brother, Dustin; three stepbrothers, Lake Pennington, Brandon Pennington and Justin Holmes; and his grandparents, Leonard and Joann Chevalier, and Hazel McCormick.

The family plans a memorial in Ohio; arrangements are not yet complete, Pennington said.

Venice Buhain can be reached at 360-754-5445 or vbuhain@theolympian.com.

Michael Gilbert of The News Tribune contributed to this report. Memorial service

A memorial ceremony for Cpl. Brian L. Chevalier is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Fort Lewis' Main Post Chapel.

Other casualties with local ties

Here's a list of other U.S. servicemembers with ties to South Sound killed in Iraq:

Army Sgt. Justin Norton, 21, a native of Rainier, was killed June 24 when an improvised explosive device exploded near Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Marine Cpl. Joseph Bier, 22, of Centralia, died Dec. 7, 2005, from an improvised explosive device in Ar Ramadi. He was assigned to the I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Navy Reserve Petty Officer 1st Class Regina Clark, 43, of Centralia, was killed June 23, 2005, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device exploded near her vehicle in Fallujah. She was temporarily assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Air Force Master Sgt. Steven E. Auchman, 37, who was living in Lacey while stationed at Fort Lewis, was killed during a mortar attack in Mosul on Nov. 9, 2004. He was assigned to the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Lewis.

Marine Corps Capt. Gregory Ratzlaff, 36, whose parents live in Olympia, died Aug. 3, 2004, from a noncombat-related incident in Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cornell Gilmore, 45, formerly of Lacey, died Nov. 7, 2003, when his helicopter crashed in Iraq. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the Judge Advocate General Office at the Pentagon.

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