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UPDATE: No one would have faulted Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Pasker if he had decided not to deploy for what would be his final tour in Afghanistan.
Pasker was recently married to Erica Pratt and hoping to start a family, said his pastor, the Rev. Jeff Timmerman. The 39-year-old soldier served in the Army and the Iowa National Guard for more than 20 years, and ultimately he decided not to let his men go into combat with an unfamiliar leader.
“He said he would not let his soldiers deploy without him. He had their trust and confidence and thus carried a responsibility toward them,” Timmerman said.
That story was one of many shared with mourners during Pasker's funeral service Monday at River of Life Ministries, 3801 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE.
Pasker was killed by small-arms fire while traveling through a security checkpoint July 9, 2011, in Panjshir Province, Afghanistan.
The service drew a capacity crowd to River of Life that included friends, family and fellow soldiers, as well as a visit from Gov. Terry Branstad.
Also officiating was the Rev. Scott Breedlove, a close friend of Pasker's who now ministers in Jefferson City, Mo. Breedlove met Pasker while opening a new church in the area and described him as the pillar of that community.
“I remember when Terry walked in; we were looking for a person we could build a church on,” he said. “Terry was that gem.”
Breedlove also shared with attendees some lighthearted moments in Pasker's life, like his tendency to wave at oncoming cars, whether he knew the driver or not; his love of karate and racquetball; and his voracious appetite.
“I still mention him when I tell my sermon about Jesus feeding the multitudes,” Breedlove said. “Afterward, the disciples picked up 12 baskets leftover, so you know Terry wasn't there.”
The funeral was followed by a burial service at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cedar Rapids where Pasker was laid to rest with full military honors.