Linda Lamour Pierre
April 16, 2011
Killed at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, when an Afghan National Army soldier attacked them with multiple grenades.
Army Sgt. Linda L. Pierre honored in dignified transfer April 18
|Linda Lamour Pierre
(January 5, 1983 - April 16, 2011)
Sgt. Linda L. Pierre, age 28, of Immokalee, Florida made the ultimate sacrifice, in service to her country, April 16, 2011. She served proudly in the United States Army as a Sergeant amidst Operation Enduring Freedom. Visitation will be held Friday, April 29, 2011 from 2-4 pm and 6-9 pm at the First Baptist Church, 1411 Lake Trafford Road, Immokalee, FL 34142. Funeral services will be held, Saturday, April 30, 2011, 11 am at the First Baptist Church. Interment to follow at Lee Memorial Park, Fort Myers, FL. Arrangements entrusted to Anderson-Patterson Cremation & Funeral Services, 2701 Lee Boulevard, Lehigh Acres, FL, (239) 368-7080.
|From The Palm Beach Post palmbeachpost.com 05/29/11:
Grief-stricken family, town of Immokalee honor Sgt. Linda Pierre, killed in Afghanistan
1:47 p.m. Sunday, May 29, 2011
Staci Sturrock Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The concrete block houses on Leed Avenue look like so many others across Florida, but there's no mistaking Jean Baptiste Lamour and Elvina Pierre's modest home. A large American flag covers the front door, and the whole town knows about the heartbreak inside.
In a gesture of pride interwoven with grief, the 59-year-old Lamour hung the flag the day before he and Pierre buried their daughter, Army Sgt. Linda Lamour Pierre.
The 28-year-old soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 16, and two weeks later, hundreds of mourners attended her funeral in this small Collier County community known for its tomato fields and farmworkers union.
The First Baptist Church, site of the emotional, 90-minute service, was filled to capacity, and once en route to Pierre's Fort Myers gravesite, the funeral procession stretched beyond the horizon.
For Pierre's parents and siblings, that sad 25-mile ride was a consoling blur of stars and stripes, of complete strangers who pulled off the road to salute one of their own - a young woman with kind eyes, a shy smile and a sense of duty.
"Even with the tears, to look out the window and to see that as we drove past, it was spectacular," says Pierre's sister, Cindy Lamour Watson, who is 27. "She loved what she did, and to get that recognition was great. It would have made her incredibly happy."
Almost a decade has passed since the United States invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, and in that time, 1,594 Americans have died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those fatalities, 29 were women. Seven had ties to Florida.
Pierre arrived in Afghanistan with the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade in November.
"It's funny how life happens," she said in a video she posted on YouTube in 2009. "What I said I would never consider, that I would never do, is what I've come to love, which is being a soldier."
Born in Naples and raised in Immokalee, Pierre - described by a fellow female soldier at her funeral as the toughest woman she'd ever met - enjoyed playing softball and golf, Rollerblading around her hometown and taking road trips.
After being stationed in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and Fort Campbell, Ky., she found she adored hiking and mountain-biking, too.
"She was adventurous," says 29-year-old Will-Rose Etienne, a cousin so close that Pierre considered her a sister. "She always wanted to try new things."
And she longed to see the world beyond Southwest Florida. Uncle Sam was an obliging travel agent.
"Being in the military and coming to Germany has done so much for me," Pierre said in that YouTube video. "I've been to Paris, I've been to Spain, I've been to Prague - things that I thought I'd never, ever get to do. I've seen things I never, ever thought I'd get to see. And I've gotten the opportunity to do this, by being in the military."
But when Pierre graduated from Immokalee High School in 2001, she envisioned herself in a white lab coat, not dress blues. For two years she attended Edison State College in neighboring Lee County as a pre-med student.
College, however, wasn't a natural fit. As far as Pierre's father was concerned, the Army was his daughter's destiny.
"I remember growing up, Dad used to say, 'Hon, I think you're going to be a soldier. I think you're going to be a soldier someday,' " she says on YouTube. "I used to look at him and laugh and say, 'Absolutely not, Dad. I won't even consider such a thing.' "
Lamour had long felt a kinship with the U.S. Army, despite his own lack of military service. He emigrated from Haiti in 1981, and after a few jobless months in Miami, he settled in Immokalee, where work in the produce fields and packing houses was bountiful.
Seminole for "my home" - is where he met Elvina Pierre, now 51 and also a Haitian-born farmworker - and where they raised six children. Linda was the third-oldest.
Despite her father's predictions, Pierre remained unsure about a military career, until her older brother persuaded her to enlist.
Army Staff Sgt. Jean Robert Lamour has served for a decade in the Marine Corps and Army. Now part of Special Forces, the 31-year-old was deployed to Libya four days after Pierre's funeral - his sixth tour of duty overseas.
As Pierre, a devout Christian, prepared for her own deployment, "she was a little worried, a little apprehensive," says Watson, her sister. "She talked to my brother, and she prayed, and then she was OK. She was going to go, and she'd be back in a year."
Even from Afghanistan, Pierre spoke almost daily on the phone or via Skype with her cousin. Initially, she kept the realities of the war to herself, says Etienne. But eventually, her fears began to seep out.
Trained as a human resources specialist, she talked about once finding herself the only female, and sole American, in a room with 30 of her Afghan National Army counterparts, and of being assigned to the lead vehicle in a convoy.
"She told me, 'If anything happens, I'll be the first one to go,' " recalls Etienne.
In the end, it wasn't a roadside bomb or rocket-propelled grenade that claimed Pierre. Death came disguised as an ally.
During a routine morning meeting between American soldiers and their Afghan partners at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, a suicide bomber wearing an Afghan army uniform entered the room. He detonated himself, killing five U.S. soldiers, four Afghan army personnel, an American civilian contractor and an Afghan interpreter.
"I guess certain people still harbored ill will for Americans," says Watson. "And here we are."
Pierre often downplayed her bravery, joking with Etienne that if she was to learn she'd won a Purple Heart, she would know her cousin was telling stories.
At her funeral, the army posthumously awarded Pierre both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. "And I didn't have to tell stories," Etienne says.
The stirring spectacle of Pierre's funeral procession still amazes those who witnessed it.
"The outpouring of emotion in this town was really kind of unbelievable," says Tim Nance of Naples. "People just started spontaneously standing on the side of the road."
Says Larry Wilcoxson, who knew Pierre in high school, "It was awesome. I'd never seen anything like that in my life. She was sent off like a real hero."
In the wake of Pierre's death, Wilcoxson, Nance and other community leaders quickly established the Sgt. Linda Pierre Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Contributions to the fund spiked following the May 1 killing of Osama bin Laden - a little more than 24 hours after Pierre was buried with military honors.
"It was a perfect storm of patriotism," says Nance of the response to the scholarship. "People wanted to do something besides waving flags on the side of the road."
By mid-May, the foundation already had raised enough money in this cash-strapped town to award $1,000 scholarships to two graduating seniors - one who, as a little girl, had known Pierre, and the other who'd served as Immokalee High's JROTC battalion commander. The committee hopes to award scholarships annually as an ongoing tribute to Pierre.
"It's always painful in a small community when you lose somebody," says Nance, "especially your little shining stars, a young lady that everyone liked."
In the veterans' section of Lee Memorial Park, the government-issue bronze and granite markers look like so many others across the country.
Pierre now rests there in rarefied company - alongside soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and members of the Coast Guard.
Many never had to answer the call to battle, while some helped defeat Hitler and Hirohito, or defended the 38th Parallel, or fought to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
All took an oath to support and defend - a prerequisite of the life Pierre said she'd never consider but came to embrace.
"She loved, loved, loved, loved her country and the Army," says Watson. "She loved the people. She loved what she did."
And while Pierre's father is bereft, he's also visibly proud of his daughter, who found her calling in camouflage fatigues.
"She died for freedom," says Lamour. "It's not the Army's fault. It's God's will.
"God gives. And he takes."
OF THE 29 AMERICAN WOMEN WHO'VE DIED WHILE SERVING IN OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, SEVEN HAD TIES TO FLORIDA
(97 men from Florida have given their lives in Afghanistan).
In addition to Army Sgt. Linda Pierre of Immokalee, the female fatalities are:
Air Force Master Sgt. Tara Brown of Deltona, 33, died April 27, 2011, at Kabul International Airport. Brown was responsible for training Afghan air force technicians on the basics of computers. She and seven other American airmen were killed when one of the trainees opened fire following an argument with a colleague.
Navy Operations Spec. 2nd Class Dominique Cruz of Panama City, 26, died Jan. 18, 2011. Assigned to the USS Halsey, Cruz was found during search and rescue operations in the Gulf of Oman 18 hours after she failed to show up for watch.
Air Force Lt. Col. Gwendolyn Locht of Fort Walton Beach, 46, died Nov. 16, 2010, in Houston. Locht had been evacuated from Kandahar six months earlier for treatment of leukemia.
Army Spec. Seteria Brown of Orlando, 22, died July 25, 2008, in the Sharana district of injuries sustained in a non-combat-related incident.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class LaQuita James of Orange Park, 33, died Feb. 12, 2007, of apparent natural causes aboard the USS Bataan.
Sgt. Wakkuna Jackson of Jacksonville, 21, died Aug. 19, 2006, when a roadside bomb exploded near her convoy Humvee. The convoy's mission? The delivery of medical supplies to an Afghan hospital for women and children.
|From Naples Daily News naplesnews.com 04/18/11:
Soldier from Immokalee killed in Afghanistan bombing
TRACY X. MIGUEL-NAVARRO
6:12 PM, Apr 18, 2011
A U.S. Army soldier from Immokalee was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, according to family and news reports from the country.
Sgt. Linda L. Pierre, 28, died in a suicide bomb attack committed by an Afghan soldier she was helping train, family members reported on Monday when reached by phone.
"She was my backbone. She was everything to me and my family," Pierre's sister, Cindy Watson, said.
The Immokalee native's body has been flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware from Afghanistan, where Pierre's parents were to identify it on Monday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. Family members said Pierre will be buried with military honors at Lee Memorial Park Funeral Home & Cemetery in Fort Myers.
The Department of Defense had not confirmed Pierre's death as of Monday afternoon, limiting official details about Pierre's position and the cause of her death.
Her cousin, Will-Rose Etienne said Pierre, a human resource specialist who served in the 101st Infantry Sustainment Brigade, was one of five U.S. soldiers killed in a Saturday suicide bomb attack by an Afghan soldier. She said the soldier threw several grenades.
Her account largely matches Saturday news reports from the Associated Press and The New York Times, which reported a suicide bomb attack that killed five NATO soldiers and four Afghan soldiers at Forward Operating Base Gamberi on the border of Laghman and Nangarhar Provinces in eastern Afghanistan. According to the Times, the bomber used an Afghan uniform to approach his target. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Pierre, a 2001 Immokalee High School graduate, served in the Army since 2004. She joined at age 21, after attending Edison State College in Lee County for two years.
Those who knew Pierre described her as both kind and generous and a reliable and positive person. Etienne said she'll miss her cousin's smile.
"She was proud and loved what she did," she said.
"She brought the best in everyone," said Marjorie Claude, a friend of 15 years, said.
Claude, of Lehigh Acres, said she is still having a hard time dealing with the news of her friend's death.
"It is gut-wrenching," she said.
A funeral date has not been set for Pierre.
|Names of Campbell soldiers killed in grenade attack released
The (Clarksville, Tenn.) Leaf Chronicle
Fort Campbell on Tuesday released information on the four 101st Airborne Division soldiers killed Saturday in Afghanistan.
They died April 16 at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an Afghan National Army soldier attacked them with multiple grenades.
All four soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade.
* Sgt. 1st Class Charles Lewis Adkins, 35, of Sandusky, Ohio was a maintenance supervisor.
He joined the Army in November 1995 and arrived at Fort Campbell in June 2002.
Adkins is survived by his wife, Sarah C. Adkins; sons, Garrhett C. Adkins and Gavin M. Adkins; daughters, Makayla R. L. Adkins, Mackenzie S. Adkins and Gabriella G. Adkins, all of Clarksville. He is also survived by his parents, Charles E. Adkins of Milan, Ohio and Shelia Good of Hudson, Mich.
* Staff Sgt. Cynthia Renea Taylor, 39, of Columbus, Ga. was a wheeled vehicle mechanic.
She joined the Army in November 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell in April 2004.
Taylor is survived by her daughter, Maggie J. Taylor of Clarksville and son, Joseph L. Goodwin of Oak Grove, Ky. She is also survived by her mother, Judy A. Hart of Clarksville.
* Sgt. Linda Lamou Pierre, 28, of Immokalee, Fla., was a human resources specialist.
She joined the Army in November 2006 and arrived at Fort Campbell in September 2009.
She is survived by her father, Jean Lamour and mother, Elvina Pierre, both of Immokalee, Fla.
* Spc. Joseph Brian Cemper, 21, of Warrensburg, Mo. was a transportation management coordinator.
He joined the Army in September 2009 and arrived at Fort Campbell in February 2010.
He is survived by his son, Liam Cemper of North Richland Hills, Tex. and his parents, Eugene B. Cemper and Angela D. Cemper of North Richland Hills, Texas.
Also killed was Capt. Charles E. Ridgley Jr., 40, of Baltimore, Md. He was assigned to the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska.
Fort Campbell holds a monthly Eagle Remembrance Ceremony to honor fallen Screaming Eagles. The next ceremony will be held May 11 at 4 p.m. on post. A memorial service will be held for the soldiers in Afghanistan.
|‘It’s my job,’ soldier said of deployment
By Gabriella Souza
The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press
Last November, Linda Pierre reluctantly told her best friend she was headed to war.
The 28-year-old Immokalee resident joined the service when pre-med studies at Edison State College didn’t feel right.
Though all agreed it was a perfect fit, Marjorie Claude struggled with the idea of her best friend fighting in Afghanistan. She implored Pierre why she had to go, why she had to risk her life.
“It’s my job,” Pierre replied. “Somebody has to do it.”
On April 18, Pierre returned to the U.S. in a flag-draped coffin, a casualty of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Defense Department said. She was killed during a suicide bomb attack, Claude said.
Her family, along with Pierre-Fils’ family, traveled to receive her body. They plan to have a funeral in Immokalee in the upcoming weeks.
Pierre’s family could not be reached for comment.
Pierre, a graduate of Immokalee High School, had been living in Fort Campbell, Ky.
Her pages on the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook emphasize her deep faith, which Claude said she cultivated while stationed in Germany. She listed the Bible as one of her favorite books and “the almighty Lord” as one of her heroes.
“Lord God as you blessed us with another year, we make no resolutions but ask that you have your way,” she wrote Jan. 1 on her MySpace page.
Pierre’s faith gave her courage as she faced the difficulties of war, Claude said. When she spoke to her on the phone, Claude could hear the joy in her voice.
“She would say, ‘Every time I wake up it’s a great day,’ ” Claude said.
Now Claude is realizing she won’t hear that voice anymore.
She’s left imagining life without the woman whose hair she braided in high school, the one she called “sister.”
|Hometown remembers fallen soldier
By Denes Husty III
The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press
IMMOKALEE, Fla. — They stood on a busy street corner in Immokalee, waving American flags and holding signs bearing pictures of Army Sgt. Linda Pierre and singing the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
Car horns tooted; dump trucks and semis sounded their horns; drivers and passengers waved and smiled in honor of the fallen soldier.
Under a hot afternoon sun, about 60 people from all over Southwest Florida — including friends, strangers and military veterans — gathered in downtown Immokalee to pay their respects to Pierre, who was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan.
“She was like the angel on my shoulder,” said Josie Lopez, 30, a local artist who attended Immokalee High School with Pierre. She held up a sign stating: “We Love You, Linda.”
“A friend called me [April 17] to tell me the bad news,” Lopez said. “I said, ‘Please don’t tell me that.’ ”
Barry Willoughby, 66, an Army veteran who served in the 1st Infantry Division, traveled from Bonita Springs to pay respects to Pierre and held a sign proclaiming: “Thank you Linda for your service to our country.”
“What greater love can somebody show than to lay down their life for their country?” asked Willoughby, whose grandson is an Army paratrooper in Afghanistan.
Larry Wilcoxson, 32, of Immokalee, who also attended high school with Pierre, appreciated such sentiments.
“I just want to send her away with the proper respect she deserves,” Wilcoxson said. “Soldiers like her are our local heroes. They are dying for you and me.”
Pierre, a graduate of Immokalee High, had been living at Fort Campbell, Ky., until her deployment last year.
When Pierre got the news of her deployment, “she told me, ‘It’s my job. I have to go. There are people who have gone there three and four times. It’s my turn,’ ” said Mary Ann Rosales, Linda’s boss at Popeye’s in Immokalee when Linda was still in high school.
“She became a good friend to me, to my family,” Rosales said with tears in her eyes as she held up a sign stating: “We love you Sgt. Pierre.”
State Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, led a moment of silence in Tallahassee in Pierre’s memory and Collier County Commissioner Tom Henning sent his condolences and prayers for family members. Relatives, including her father, Jean Baptiste Lamour, and her mother, Elvina Pierre, were still making funeral arrangements and not able to attend, Wilcoxson said.
|‘She’s not gone in our hearts’
By Janine Zeitlin
The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Presse
IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Love, joy and faith ruled Sgt. Linda Pierre’s abbreviated life.
But the death of the 28-year-old known for her smile and passion for country music is not a defeat, a pastor told hundreds of mourners who packed the First Baptist Church on April 30.
It contains lessons for the living, he said.
“We don’t celebrate death,” said Pastor Timothy Grant Sr. “We celebrate life because Linda was saved.”
“She has touched people everywhere.”
The rural close-knit Collier County town has been rattled by the death of the soldier. And it has brought the war home for Southwest Florida residents.
Pierre died April 16 along with four other soldiers in Afghanistan after an Afghan National Army soldier attacked them with grenades, according to Defense Department reports. She had been assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.
About 350 people came to the standing-room-only morning service in the modest sanctuary. A woman, nearly a stranger, was the first to speak of Pierre. It was a testament to how the soldier’s warmth extended to so many.
She met Pierre on a flight to Atlanta last summer. Angelina Spencer, a 44-year-old Naples resident, had sat next to Pierre.
When the plane hit turbulence, Spencer became fearful. Pierre held her hand. They struck up a friendship and Spencer later arranged for hundreds of care packages to be sent to soldiers once Pierre deployed.
“She’s a wonderful, wonderful woman,” Spencer said, looking to Pierre’s family in the front rows.
Pierre’s joy was clear in photos of her that flashed on a screen. There she was before the Mona Lisa in Paris. In her Army uniform. Splashing in a pool. And almost always with a smile.
Reared in Immokalee, Pierre belonged to a large Haitian-American family that included five siblings.
In 2004, she joined the Army after two years of pre-med studies at Edison State College. After spending two years in Germany, she was sent to Fort Campbell. Last fall, the human resources specialist deployed to Afghanistan.
Her faith in Christ became a powerful force in her life, said Grant, a senior pastor at Deliverance Outreach Temple Church. Pierre joined the Tennessee church in 2009 while stationed at Fort Campbell.
Grant’s booming voice led the group in gospel songs such as “This Little Light of Mine,” urging others to sing as Pierre once did.
For a while, at least, cries of grief were replaced by “Alleluia” and “Amen” in a message hued with a spirit of revival.
Yes, the preacher said, they would miss her touch, laughing, emailing or texting with her.
That’s why they cry.
But he encouraged the group to have hope and to let her life speak. He pointed to a Proverbs verse.
“Tomorrow is not promised to any of us; we must make the most of every opportunity, every day as Linda did.”
Her friends left with reminders that can be misplaced: Relish each day. Keep your family close.
“She would have been proud. They did her justice,” said Scheila Pierre, 34, who is not related to the soldier but has been a family friend.
Afterward, a parade of cars inched by orange groves and homes along State Road 82 on the way to the cemetery.
Strangers lined the route followed by her casket and mourners. Some waved American flags, and local paramedics and firefighters stood at attention.
Then, the traditions of a military funeral that have come to console countless wounded families took over: a rifle salute, a mournful bugle playing taps, and the folding and presenting of the flag.
Her parents, Jean Lamour and Elvina Pierre, accepted the flags that graced her military-issued silver casket.
On this sunny day, loved ones said goodbye to a sister, daughter, aunt and friend. A soldier was buried, joining so many others who fallen while serving the country.
“She may be gone figuratively,” said younger brother, Jimmy Lamour, “but she’s not gone in our hearts.”
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