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Jed Boal ReportingSharon Kotter, Teacher: "It was a very sad day at school today.”
A small Utah town remembers a native son with a big heart who was killed in action in Iraq. Rocky Payne grew up in the town of Howell, not far from the Idaho border. A roadside bomb took his life yesterday in Iraq.
Friends and neighbors say he was a young man on the go, a young man who was finding his purpose in life.
The communities of northern Utah have a legacy of military service, and 26-year-old Rocky Payne pulled two tours of duty to serve a cause he believed in. We spoke with the soldier's Bishop tonight and a teacher who watched him grow up.
When a soldier from a small town like Howell makes the ultimate sacrifice, everyone feels it.
Sharon Kotter, Teacher: "He wasn't just out there to keep the people in that country free, he was over there to help keep us free."
Sharon and Leon Kotter knew Rocky Payne since he was a boy. The youngest of five boys, Payne attended Howell Elementary where Sharon Kotter teaches.
Payne was killed when a roadside bomb exploded next to his military convoy as it passed through a southern Baghdad neighborhood. Early in the conflict he went over as a Marine and went back as a soldier.
Leon Kotter, Payne's Bishop: "He was there voluntarily. He liked what he was doing."
Last month Leon Kotter received a letter from Payne that oddly foreshadowed the attack.
The soldier's parents spend winters in Nevada; they are returning to Howell.