Montrel S Mcarn
Raeford, North Carolina
February 19, 2007
Killed in Baghdad, Iraq, when their unit came under attack by enemy forces using multiple weapons.
|By Victoriana Summers The
News-Journal, Raeford N.C.
Corporal Montrel Shante McArn was honored last week by his alma mater, Hoke County High, with students sadly commemorating the U.S. Army soldier as the first graduate to die in Iraq, according to Chenita Clark, a spokesperson at the high school.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, faculty, staff and students observed a moment of silence each day last week in tribute to McArn. A Hoke native and member of the Class of 2003, McArn was killed in action when his battalion came under attack in Baghdad on February 19. A decorated soldier, McArn joined the U.S. Army in February 2005.
“We regret the loss of another fallen soldier serving his country,” Command Sgt. Maj. Paul D. McPherson, supervisor of the Army JROTC at Hoke High, said. “We must always stand to give the ultimate sacrifice in which we believe.
“It is my humble cry that our young people today stop and realize the importance of commitment.”
Promoted from sergeant first class to corporal after his death, McArn joined the U.S. Army in February 2005. He was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas prior to being deployed overseas. He was serving in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
McArn is the second former Hoke High student to die in Iraq. Private First Class Dillon Miles Jutras was killed last year in Iraq. A native of Fayetteville, Jutras attended Hoke High in his freshman and sophomore years while residing in Lumber Bridge. He participated in the Army JROTC program at Hoke High.
McArn’s funeral service will be held today at 1 p.m. at Cape Fear Conference Headquarters B, 10225 Fayetteville Road, located north of the intersection of U.S. 401 and Wayside Road. Following the service, McArn will be buried with full military honors at Highland Biblical Gardens cemetery. A corps of U.S. Army marksmen will stage a 21-gun salute. A military representative will present military decorations to McArn posthumously. His family will also accept the American Flag in tribute to McArn’s service to his country.
While attending Hoke High, McArn played on the varsity football team as a defensive back, and he also enjoyed playing baseball. McArn listed in the legacy section of Hoke High’s yearbook that his future plans included joining the U.S. Marines and to later attend college.
Clark said some of his former teachers had visited the McArn family to offer condolences this week.
“His mother, Lula McByrde, came to school to tell us he had died,” Mrs. Clark said. “But, she was so overcome with grief that she could not speak.
“She wrote on a piece of paper his name and only the word, ‘death,’ to explain what happened.”
“He was also a very respectful young man,” Mrs. Clark said. “He did not ever get into any disciplinary problems at Hoke County High.
“I thought a lot of him. Montrel was quiet and easy going. That is how I will always remember him.”
Lisa Yepez, a former classmate of McArn’s, described him as “funny” and the “nicest” person one could hope to meet. She is also serving in the U.S. Army.
The extended McArn family, including eight siblings, says his death was a shock. Friends fondly called him “Trel,” while some family members knew him as “Mann.”
At the time of his death, Montrel was assigned as an armor crewman when he came under a multiple arms assault that also resulted in the death of Pedro J. Colon of Illinois.
McArn was already a recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
The 21-year-old soldier also leaves behind his mother, nicknamed “Cookie,” who is fighting an illness after taking a sick leave from House of Raeford.
His father, Michael McArn, a Burlington Industries employee, indicated he is slowly grappling with the death of his son. Mr. McArn said he is finding it difficult to cope with the sudden loss.
“It is just horrible, horrible,” he said. “But, he knew what he had to do for his duty to his country.
“He even signed up to join the Army without telling me. I still do not know exactly how he died, or if it was instant,” he said.
“I have requested a report be sent to me by the military. Our family did not want him to go to Iraq because we knew what might happen.”
Mr. McArn said he constantly thought about the danger in Iraq every time he heard of another soldier getting killed. McArn said he loved his son and would always be “very, very proud” of him.
“He loved his family – especially his mother and sisters,” Mr. McArn said. “He loved to be a big brother to his sisters.
“He loved going to school at Hoke High and hanging out with his friends.”
Mr. McArn said Montrel was looking forward to coming home.
“He had goals, and he told me he wanted to make a career in the Army,” Mr. McArn said. “His fiancé (Yornalis Tequero) has arrived from Texas. They planned to marry soon. He told me he was looking forward to having kids.”
“My son told me he was concerned about going to Iraq, but he wanted to better himself by serving his country,” Mr. McArn said.
“I loved him a lot. I cannot believe we will never be able to spend time together again.”
Montrel’s aunt, Estella McArn, lauded him as a “sweet and good” boy.
His brothers and sisters are Latika Leggett, Latrisha McArn, Darcel McArn, Latoya McByrde, Jevaris McArn, Michael McArn, Twain McByrde and Fredrick McByrde. His siblings either currently attend Hoke County schools, or have graduated from Hoke High, except for Latrisha who resides in Atlanta.
“I did not believe at first that my brother was dead,” Latrisha, who returned for the funeral, said. “Old memories just flashed through my mind.
“Montrel was always so protective of me, and we always stayed in touch,” she said.
“I remember we used to love to go to Fantasy Lake in Cumberland County.”
Admiring her brother for his commitment to the military, Latrisha said Montrel always wanted to be a success in the eyes of his family.
“I do not think we have any regrets, but we will miss him because he was the best brother.
“He just wanted to make his family proud.”
Montrel is the third, local soldier from Hoke County to die this year in Iraq.
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