Slain Utah Soldier to be Buried Friday

Slain Utah Soldier to be Buried Friday

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- To the many who knew him, Sgt. Rocky Payne was a combat-tested soldier, hardened by the trials of battle and reconciled to the prospect of giving his life for what he deemed "a better cause."

Yet, under that courageous facade, the 26-year-old Utah solider killed in Baghdad on March 16 when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb was a softhearted soul who often reached out to young children.

Mourners on opposite sides of the globe became acquainted with that delicate side of the slain solider at a memorial service held Monday at the Army base known as Camp Striker in Iraq.

A second service will be held in Garland on Friday, and Payne will be buried with military honors Friday afternoon at the Howell City Cemetery.

Transcripts of Monday's memorial in Iraq were obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune. Payne, who had enlisted for a second tour of duty in Iraq, was honored for his desire to serve in the nation's military.

"Serving previously in the Marine Corps, Rocky walked some of the same ground we defend today," Army Capt. Benjamin Marx said of Payne, a Howell native who served as a gunner with the 497th Transportation Company who was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

"He gave his life willingly in the defense of those who cannot defend themselves," Marx told a packed chapel.

Another comrade-in-arms described Payne as a man who was "at peace" with the possibility that he might die in Iraq.

"He saw the big picture, knew his place in the world," said 1st Lt. Cecilia Motschenbacher, who spoke at the Monday memorial.

Motschenbacher read from a letter left by Payne to be read in the event of his death. "If you are reading this," he began," it means I gave my life for a better cause."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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