Family members, friends and Soldiers of the National Training Center held a memorial service for Pvt. Justin P. Hartford at the Blackhorse Chapel on Fort Irwin, Calif., May 26.
Hartford, 21, of Elmira, N.Y., was assigned to the 699th Maintenance Company, 916th Support Brigade, and was deployed to Iraq in late March. He died of injuries from a non-combat-related incident at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, on May 8.
The memorial service held for his memory was a solemn affair, which featured remarks from Lt. Col. Billy Davis, Corps Support Brigade commander.
"He was a very giving young man," Davis said. "Sometimes he was a challenging young man, but he was a very good young Soldier."
Davis said he had talked with Hartford's mother, Alice, prior to the service. He said she wanted to use a photo of his son smiling for his service. "That's my son," she told him.
Hartford was known to be a joker to his friends and Family, a close friend of his, Spc. Anthony Peak, talked briefly about his friend.
"He was an outstanding worker, there wasn't a task he couldn't complete," Peak said. "I asked him to get the job done and he'd get it done. He was a jokester, he loved to make people laugh, and I'm going to miss him."
Davis shared a memory he had of the young Soldier. He talked about the day Hartford left for deployment. Hartford was the last junior Soldier in line to get on the bus and as Davis shook his hand to bid him farewell, he said Hartford told him, "Hey, sir. Count on me."
After the service, Peak and other Soldiers of the unit stayed for a while longer while the other Soldiers filed out of the chapel.
He said he was satisfied a memorial service was held here on Fort Irwin.
"I was very happy that they did this for him, he deserved every bit of it," Peak said. "I wish he was still here with me."
Peak, who has not met Hartford's Family said, if given the opportunity to, he would not be able to fully express his feelings.
"I'd just hug them, I don't think words can describe it," he said. "I'd just hug them."
Hartford is survived by his mother, Alice, and six brothers and sisters. The cause of his death is still under investigation.