June 15, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck
It was hard to hold back the tears for many as they said their final goodbyes to Army Staff Sergeant Timothy Cole Junior. The 28-year-old Oakdale native was killed June 6th while defending freedom in Iraq.
Sgt. Cole's work as a soldier, brought him overseas twice -- the first as a marine, the second as gunner and team leader with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. He knew the risks, but this was one soldier who was fearless in the face of danger.
"We came today to lay to rest an American hero. A man who paid the ultimate price fighting for only one reason and that is to defend those things that you and I hold dear as Americans," said Reverend Stephen Laughlin.
"May you seek solace in knowing that your son stepped up and did what was required of him. He did what was needed without being asked. Always saying, 'Send me, I will go. I will face the enemy. I will protect you. I will do what needs to be done regardless of the cost,'" said Brig. General Mark Bellini.
For his selfless sacrifice, Sgt. Cole was honored with the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, two Army Commendation Medals for valor and bravery, as well as a Commendation Medal for his maritime service.
Full military honors continued as he was escorted to his final resting place, including a 21 gun salute.
The family of Sgt. Timothy Cole released this statement to the media:
To the Nation,
We would like to thank our friends and neighbors from Oakdale and the surrounding area and the Coushatta Tribe, for the support and prayers you have given us.
Although today is a sad one we are actually celebrating the life and heroic sacrifice Timothy made.
Timothy fought first as a Marine, then as a soldier so that we could have the freedom to gather without fear as we have today.
During one of his last conversations with us while he was home on leave he reminded us that the American military is fighting terrorists over there now, so we don't have to fight them here later.
Finally we ask that when Louisiana and the Nation remembers Timothy, they don't remember him with tears and grief, but rather with Love, Laughter, Joy and Pride.
Thank you for the hospitality you have offered, the flowers you have sent and the countless other acts of kindness you have shown us during our time of loss. We would especially like to thank everyone who turned out and lined the streets to welcome Timothy back to Oakdale with dignity honor and respect on the day we brought him home.
To see the love and support you showed for America and our fighting men and women is something we will never forget.