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    Troops give respective farewell to comrade-in-arms

    Troops give respective farewell to comrade-in-arms

    Photo By Sgt. Jason Adolphson | Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division stand by for a 21-gun-salute to 649th...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Daniel Lonowski 

    Joint Sustainment Command - Afghanistan

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Soldiers and friends gathered at the Boardwalk, April 25, to say their final farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Laborde.

    As the United States flag blew gently in the breeze and the afternoon sun beat down, the unmistakable symbol of an Army helmet propped on the butt of an M16 with a pair of combat boots nearby allowed those mourning one last chance to say goodbye. The photos on the table relayed the 31-year career of Laborde, who served as the command sergeant major for the 649th Regional Support Group, an Army Reserve unit out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    "John was a quiet professional who went about his job each day," said teary-eyed Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Kinder, the command sergeant major for Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan. "He touched many lives here at KAF."

    "John was about the Soldiers," the headquarters company 1st Sgt. Mark Taylor said. "If it isn't for the good of the Soldiers, he would say we shouldn't be doing it."

    Kinder said he and Laborde shared a lot in the four months they spent together at KAF. He said "John's eyes would brighten when he spoke of his kids and family."

    Laborde began his career with the United States Marines in 1975. He enlisted into the United States Army Reserve in 1985. In 2007, Laborde was assigned as the command sergeant major for the 649th RSG.

    "Sergeant Major Laborde was a tireless organizer, especially for ramp ceremonies," 649th RSG Reverend Capt. William Kneemiller said. "His dedication to our fallen warriors was outstanding. John was a Soldier among Soldiers."

    Laborde's military decorations include, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, The meritorious Service medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Ribbon with bronze star, The Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on terrorism Expeditionary medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, the Marine Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with silver star, the NATO international Security Assistance Medal, the Navy/Marine Corps Meritorious Unit Commendation and various other ribbons.

    Laborde's death is due to non-battle related circumstances. It is under investigation and the cause of death is suspected to be natural.

    The 53-year-old Reinbeck, Iowa resident is survived by his wife, Lori, five children and two grandchildren.

    Slowly, at the end of the ceremony, Troops waited, and in pairs or in small groups, approached the memorial of John K. Laborde. They saluted, prayed, paid their last respects and cried.



    Date Taken: 04.30.2010
    Date Posted: 04.30.2010 13:55
    Story ID: 48950

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