Corporal Planned on Joining Police When Duty Ended

Army Cpl. David Armstrong was 21 years old when he died in a Humvee crash in Iraq. Armstrong was a military policeman with a passion for law enforcement. He wanted to be a K9 police officer when he returned home to Zanesville, Ohio. Fred Kight of member station WOUB in Athens, Ohio, reports.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

And now we take a moment to remember a serviceman who did not return; 21-year-old Army Corporal David Armstrong of Zanesville, Ohio was killed recently in Iraq when the Humvee he was driving plunged into a ravine. Armstrong was a military policeman and had a passion for law enforcement.

Fred Kight of member station WOUB in Athens, Ohio has our report.

FRED KIGHT: David Armstrong was survived by his wife, Tasha, and his parents. He also left behind four dogs, which is notable because those closest to him say the animals were a big part of his life. Armstrong had been planning to work as a canine officer after leaving the Army.

(Soundbite of dog barking)

Mr. SEAN BECK (Patrolman): There you go, good boy.

That's Paco. Paco's partner is Patrolman Sean Beck, and the two of them make up the canine division of the Zanesville Police Department, near where Armstrong grew up. Because Armstrong won't be able to realize his career dream, his family has established a memorial fund to help keep this canine unit on the street. Laura Garrett(ph) is Armstrong's sister.

Ms. LAURA GARRETT (Sister): He would definitely approve of that. Since he just loves dogs so much, that would just be the best honorable way that we could have any donations go for David's memory.

KIGHT: Garret says her brother was always fun to be around, and as a kid couldn't stay away from dogs. She says that didn't change after he went off to war.

Ms. GARRET: Even when he was over in Iraq, he actually drove one of the dogs, and his name was Lasso. He asked if they could slow down because he was - they were driving and jostling the dog around and he wanted to make sure the dog had to comfortable ride on one of their missions.

KIGHT: Jordan Wilkes(ph) was Armstrong's hometown buddy and calls him an amazing guy. To illustrate that, Wilkes reads a note posted on Armstrong's MySpace account, talking about his life in and out of the military.

Mr. JORDAN WILKES (Friend): I love to just have fun. I did almost a year in Korea and I have some really good memories from there. But now I'm at war. I will say war is crazy. The Army has torn me apart from almost everything that I love. But all that will make me stronger. I believe I'm destined for greatness.

KIGHT: An Army officer who's spoken at Armstrong's funeral said that as a soldier he was tough as nails. But the people in this small southeast Ohio town knew David Armstrong's soft side too and say he will be sorely missed.

For NPR News, I'm Fred Kight in Athens, Ohio.

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