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Services set for fallen Utah Guardsman
Graveside services are scheduled for Friday for Staff Sgt. Alan L. Rogers, 49, of Kearns, who died in Bagram, Afghanistan, of non-combat related injuries. On Sunday, his Utah National Guard colleagues honored him with a memorial service at their Bagram headquarters.
Then the soldiers with whom Rogers had worked carried his coffin to the C-17 cargo plane that brought him home to Utah.
"The battle continues, the dangers remain and we are still in a very real fight, and must step up with our might and do what is right," Chaplain Mark Allison told members of the 211th Aviation Battalion.
"We refuse to remain psychological casualties held mental hostage to this tragic situation."
The 500 soldiers in the attack Apache helicopter unit were deployed in January and arrived in Afghanistan in April to support ground troops seeking out insurgents and Taliban fighters and to protect allied convoys.
"Fuelers, keep fueling," said Allison, standing next to Roger's M-16 rifle, helmet, ID tags and boots. "Mechanics, keep maintaining and repairing. Pilots, keep flying.
"Whatever our job, we will rise about the present grief and move forward with pep in our step, smiles returned to our faces, our shoulders into the work and our head in the game.
"As we do these and remain in God's favor by obeying all of his commandments, we will win the battles here in Afghanistan and return to Utah together."
The service Friday is to be held at noon at the Utah Veterans Cemetery, 17111 S. Camp Williams Road in Riverton.
An investigation into the cause of Rogers' death on Sept. 29 is continuing.
"We took a hit with the death of Staff Sgt. Rogers," Allison wrote in an e-mail to The Salt Lake Tribune.
"But morale remains high and Utah soldiers are making a favorable difference here in Afghanistan," he continued.
Fourteen GIs with ties to the state have died in the Persian Gulf since the U.S. military buildup in Iraq last year.
Rogers is among four Utah military personnel who died in September.