Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Army Pfc. Phillip J. Pannier

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Phillip J. Pannier, 20, of Washburn, Ill.

Pfc. Pannier was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Jan. 9, 2008 in Samarra, Iraq, of wounds sustained during combat operations. Also killed were Sgt. David J. Hart and Pfc. Ivan E. Merlo.

Peoria Journal Star -- WASHBURN - Family and friends of Pfc. Phillip Pannier gathered Thursday night in the fallen soldier's bedroom to celebrate his life.

Rather than wiping one another's tears, the crowded room of people laughed about memories of Pannier, 20, a Roanoke-Benson High School graduate and an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, who was killed Tuesday while serving in Iraq.

"He was a great friend and an even better person," friend Cliff Oltman said. "He would do anything for anybody. . . .

We love him and we'll miss him. He was a hero to us."

Pannier's friends said two of his fellow infantrymen were killed with him and two others were injured.

The three soldiers who notified Pannier's family Tuesday night didn't say when or where he died, and officials declined to comment, citing privacy rules restricting them from offering detail.

The Panniers don't expect their son's body to be returned to Illinois for several weeks, but friends said they will continue to support his family until they can give him a proper burial.

"We plan on continuing to celebrate his life," friend Dan Ransom said. "That's what he would want."

Pannier volunteered for the Army shortly after graduating in 2006. His friends agreed he wasn't interested in college, and he shipped out for basic training in July just after graduation. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., before being shipped to Iraq in October for a 15-month deployment.

"He was ready to serve," friend Greg Churchill said, adding Pannier was anxious to leave. "He knew he was going to miss people at home, but nothing was going to hold him back. If you're not nervous to fight, you're a fool. But he was ready to go."

Churchill said Pannier had talked of being a police officer, but he wanted to serve in the military like his older brother Dale, who was in the Illinois Army National Guard from 1991 to 1995. He died in a car accident in September.

Phillip Pannier played football for two years in high school. He was also involved in 4-H and FFA and raised sheep that he showed for both organizations.

Jake Washer, who called Phillip Pannier his best friend, said whenever his friend found time, he would sleep.

"Even if he just had 10 minutes, he would take a nap," Washer said with a laugh.

The group of friends joked Thursday night about Pannier's favorite quotation: "Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now."

But jokes aside, friend Terry Aeschelman said Phillip Pannier was a devoted friend.

"He would do anything for anybody," he said. "Everyone is proud as hell to have had him as a friend."

The tight-knit group comforted teary-eyed Robyn Pannier, Phillip Pannier's mother, Thursday night, as she said her son was "a good boy."

Mark Zotz, Pannier's principal in both junior high and high school, echoed the sentiments of others - Phillip was a caring person who never caused trouble at school.

Flags flew at half-staff for Pannier on Thursday, but because it was finals week, nothing has been planned to honor him. Zotz said he would consult with the family about doing something at the school at a later date.

Army Pfc. Phillip J. Pannier was killed in action on 1/9/08.


Anonymous said...

we all miss phillip and are forever gratefull that he was in our lives and at such a young age was willing to go and fight even knowing the risk. you will forever be honored by us all here in roanoke

Anonymous said...

From one soldier to another, you will always be in my heart as the courageous one. Peace be with you and your brother. To the family-God bless!