Soldier Edmond Lo Remembered As Quiet Leader

Edmond Lo was born to immigrant parents and grew up in New Hampshire. In high school, he joined ROTC and began planning for a career in the military. He was trying to defuse a bomb when it exploded and killed him.

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GUY RAZ, host:

While American soldiers pulled back in Iraq, the toll is still being felt back home. Take Salem, New Hampshire. That's where Staff Sergeant Edmond Lo grew up and where friends and family are mourning the soldier. He was killed while taking apart a roadside bomb in Iraq.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Sheryl Rich-Kern has this remembrance.

SHERYL RICH-KERN: Edmond Lo was the second to youngest in a family of six. His parents immigrated from Hong Kong, became U.S. citizens and opened a computer shop. Ed's mother is a petite woman who moves as if in a whisper, but her small, dark eyes reveal an inner strength, especially when she talks about her son.

Ms. ROSA LO: He's the kind of man that's willing to sacrifice. Even he knows that's a dangerous job, but he has really strong will, really determined to do what he thinks is right to do.

RICH-KERN: Ed's sister, Selma Dayak(ph), scrolls through her brother's e-mail.

Ms. SELMA DAYAK: These are the ones he was just (unintelligible).

RICH-KERN: Selma opens a photo of her brother in front of an Army truck. He's standing on one foot. It's his running-man pose.

Ms. DAYAK: He's being goofy. He's always been goofy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

He used to always make us laugh.

RICH-KERN: Ed liked to make funny faces, but he also knew when to be serious.

Chief THOMAS PUZZO (Salem High School ROTC Program): He was a quiet leader. There's no flash about him.

RICH-KERN: That's Chief Thomas Puzzo of Salem High's ROTC program.

Chief PUZZO: People knew when he was in charge of something. They said okay, Ed, we'll follow you, and we'll get this done.

RICH-KERN: The chief says Ed was the top student and turned down a scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Chief PUZZO: You know, I said Ed, you know, what an opportunity, and he says well, you know, I don't know, I say, kind of the Army, it's something I want to do.

RICH-KERN: Justin Engaharo(ph) was an ROTC freshman when Ed was sergeant. Justin says Ed was the one with the book smarts, always ready to help with homework.

Mr. JUSTIN ENGAHARO: And even if he didn't know what you were talking about, he didn't need to know what subject you were doing, even if he's never heard of it, he'd go well, let's see what we've got in the book, and he'd crack it open and try to figure it out with you.

RICH-KERN: But Justin says that Ed was a kid at heart, like when he created puppet characters with his fingers.

Mr. ENGAHARO: We were doing the little hand (unintelligible), you know, doing little funny stuff, and we did that for like a half hour, hour in the driveway, and every car going by, like, staring at us, what are these guys, like, dancing in the driveway for?

RICH-KERN: Chief Puzzo said Ed took on a dangerous mission when he decided to work with bombs.

Chief PUZZO: But I look at that from one perspective is he's there knowing that if they deal with the situation, in this case it was an explosive device that he discovered, then he knows he's going to save lives. You know, but it takes a certain type of person that can do that.

RICH-KERN: Nick Thompson(ph) grew up riding bikes with Ed. Now he finds himself visiting Ed's parents, standing outside their computer shop, trying to grasp the news.

Mr. NICK THOMPSON: People see his death and that he died in uniform and not - he shouldn't only be remembered for how he died, but he should rather be remembered for how he lived.

RICH-KERN: Pallbearers carried Staff Sergeant Edmund Lo to his grave at a military funeral in Salem, New Hampshire. He was 23 years old.

For NPR News, I'm Sheryl Rich-Kern.

(Sounbite of music)

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