Army Ranger Dillon Jutras
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Private First Class Dillon Jutras was buried this week at Arlington National Cemetery. He had just turned 20 and had only been in Iraq a few months when he died in combat in Anbar province late last month. NPR's Ben Bergman has this remembrance.
BEN BERGMAN reporting:
Dillon Jutras was from Fairfax Station, Virginia, but he was also from Ft. Benning, Georgia, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Jutras' father, Pierre Jutras, a career Army officer--every time he got a new assignment, so, too, came a new location for his four kids and his wife, Julia Jutras.
Mrs. JULIA JUTRAS (Dillon's Mother): When you do move, you have to kind of start over each time. But we've tried to be a close family, and I thought we were real successful with that. And you know you always have each other.
BERGMAN: Dillon Jutras was particularly close to his sister, an Army ROTC cadet who is a year older.
Mrs. JUTRAS: You know, they would go to the movies together, go bowling together.
BERGMAN: Pierre Jutras said his son was also close to his younger brothers.
Mr. PIERRE JUTRAS (Dillon's Father): He would take them, dress them up in Army clothes, camouflage and take them out in the woods here behind the house and maybe do recons.
BERGMAN: Jutras grew up around the Army, and when he got to high school, he joined a Junior ROTC program. He went to George Mason University for a year, but his father said it just wasn't for him.
Mr. JUTRAS: Yes, we did encourage him to stay in school, but once he decided what he wanted to do, I could not argue against the fact that he wanted to serve.
BERGMAN: Jutras' years of running helped him stand out as physically fit enough in basic training to be accepted into the elite Army Rangers. In August, after years of following his father, it was his turn to be called to duty. Jutras called his family every week from Iraq, but he couldn't talk about much of what he was doing because it was classified. Jutras' father was eager for his son to return.
Mr. JUTRAS: We were hoping that he would get back for Thanksgiving, and we were looking forward to that visit. Of course, it never came.
BERGMAN: This week Jutras' parents have received messages of sympathy from the many places they've called home. People say they remember Jutras as a quiet person who liked to listen to loud '80s music in his '86 Dodge pickup. He took some time to get to know, but once you did, they say it was well worth it. His mother says Jutras had strong principles.
Mrs. JUTRAS: On our last trip down to visit him at Ft. Benning, a man backed into a car in the parking lot, and he just got out real quick and parked in another spot, and he looked around to see if anybody saw him. And Dillon said, `You know, I just can't let that go.' And he went in the store, talked to the manager, and we got in the car. And his aunt said, `Is that something you learned in basic training?' And he said, `No. That's something I learned from my parents.' He said, `You just have to be good, and you have to be a good person.'
BERGMAN: Jutras didn't live long enough to order a drink in a bar, but his mother says he did live long enough to become her role model.
Mrs. JUTRAS: That I could be a tenth of the type of person he was, that would make me proud. You know, he touched so many lives, and he was so young.
BERGMAN: Jutras has been awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal. Ben Bergman, NPR News.
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