Army Pfc. Anthony T. Justesen
Died June 23, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
22, of Wilsonville, Ore.; assigned to 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died June 23 at Ganjkin village, Pusht Rod district, Farah province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
(The following was taken from www.oregonlive of July 8, 2010) WOODBURN -- This should have been a month of welcome-home hugs, family barbecues and a 5-year-old boy showing off for Uncle Tony.
Instead, more than 100 family members and friends of U.S. Army Pfc. Anthony T. Justesen gathered Thursday to remember his generous spirit and to honor his service to his country.
Justesen, a member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, died last month in Afghanistan at age 22. He was killed when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised bomb June 23, about a month before he was to come home.
At Thursday's funeral Mass, smiling pictures of Justesen filled a poster board at the front of the church. Friends remembered him as fun, caring and overflowing with generosity.
"When he said he would join the service, I was not surprised," said Patty Eamons, who was Justesen's choir teacher. "I was actually more worried that he would throw himself in front of a bullet for someone, because that's just the type of person he is and was."
Eamons told how a young Justesen would offer to carry choir books to and from her car and how other parents always wanted him in their group for field trips.
The presiding priest remembered how proud Justesen had been to serve his country. "I can still see his face when he stood here for the first time in his uniform," the Rev. Dave Zegar said. "This life for him would have meaning."
Army Gen. K.K. Chinn presented Justesen's family with his awards and decorations including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.
Justesen attended St. Luke's in Woodburn for both school and church after his family moved from Aurora to Wilsonville. In honor of Justesen, his family set up a memorial fund to raise money for a new classroom at St. Luke's.
Last month Teniele Justesen, one of Justesen's sisters, told The Oregonian that her 5-year-old son Shawn was still waiting for him to return home to share an important accomplishment with him.
"Shawn learned how to ride his bike," Teniele Justesen said. "He just wanted to show Uncle Tony."
Another sister, Samantha, sang "Heaven Was Needing a Hero" to her brother, her voice strong until the very end of the song.
"I guess heaven was needing a hero, somebody just like you," she sang.
"When I try to make it make sense in my mind, the only conclusion I come to, is heaven was needing a hero, like you," she quietly finished.
As the song came to a close, mourners followed Justesen's casket out of the church, the memories of his life lingering in whispers.
Justesen will be buried in a private ceremony in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.