CEDAR RAPIDS — Family and friends of a Cedar Rapids soldier killed in Afghanistan, just weeks before his tour of duty was to be over, believe a building can stand the test of time.
And now with the name of Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Pasker on it, his memory will endure.
Saturday, the downtown post office at 615 Sixth Ave. SE was named to honor the Iowa National Guard soldier killed a little more than five years ago.
“He had a good heart,” said Iowa National Guard Col. Tim Glynn.
Glynn told the approximately 200 people gathered for the ceremony — including Pasker’s family, political dignitaries and Iowa Guardsmen — of Pasker’s sense of humor yet toughness.
Pasker was born in Anamosa in 1972 and graduated from Lisbon High School in 1990, the same year he enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1995, he joined the Iowa National Guard.
He was deployed twice to Afghanistan, first in 2004 and again in 2010.
That final time, he was deployed with the Company B 334th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division. He and others in his unit were helping mentor Afghan police and military leadership.
On July 9, 2011, the armored vehicle Pasker was in was fired on by an Afghan security officer at a checkpoint in the Panjshir province. He was 39 when he was killed.
“They were vulnerable because they stopped to help,” Glynn said.
An American civilian law enforcement contractor in the vehicle was also killed. The gunman was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Pasker was slated to return home by the first week of that August.
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“We weren’t there to raise our weapons. We were there to help people like us,” Glynn said.
Legislation to name the post office in Pasker’s honor was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican who represents the 1st District that includes Cedar Rapids, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. Dave Young and Rep. Steve King, all Iowa Republicans, and Rep, Dave Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat, were co-sponsors.
“It’s a phenomenal story of sacrifice — the ultimate sacrifice — and the more we learned about him, the more we determined we should try to do something to honor his memory and the memory of all the fallen heroes that have served in the military,” Blum said.
President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law June 13.
Cedar Rapids Postmaster June Martindale said Sixth Avenue building is the first post office in Cedar Rapids named for a fallen soldier.
Martindale said a plaque unveiled at the ceremony will be hung in the lobby next week.
While the building is now named for Pasker, the dignitaries emphasized it will honor all of Iowa’s fallen servicemen.
“He’s a representative of a lot of servicemen who gave the ultimate sacrifice that should be remembered,” Grassley said. “This plaque will bring that to people’s attention.”