Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon

Remember Our Heroes

Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, Pa.

2nd Lt. Loudon was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 17, 2006 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq. Also killed were: Cpl. David M. Unger, Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III and Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr.

Williamsport Sun Gazette -- An Army soldier with ties to Sullivan County was killed Tuesday in Iraq, and his family is mourning his loss.

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, near DuBois, will be sorely missed for his dedication as a husband and father and as a soldier fighting terrorism, his wife and mother-in-law said from their Muncy Valley-area residence Wednesday night.

Loudon’s widow, the former Jacey Laidacker, 24, who lives with her mother and father, Suzanne and Larry Laidacker, described her husband as a "soul mate" and "best friend."

"Chris was the most caring, kind, strong person that I know," she said. "I’m going to miss him every day."

Loudon, who was attached to the 4th Infantry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas, was killed by a roadside bomb that exploded as he was riding by in a Humvee on patrol in Baghdad, Suzanne Laidacker said.

Three soldiers with Loudon also died in the blast, she said. She did not give their names.

Army personnel declined to comment when contacted by the Sun-Gazette. The Department of Defense Web site, which lists casualties, had not posted information on Loudon as of Wednesday night.

"He was looking for snipers, improvised explosive devices and knocking doors down," Suzanne Laidacker said. Loudon was scheduled to return in December having left in July, she said.

"I have two sons and a daughter and he was my third son. If I could trade places I would give up my life."

Loudon’s parents, Randy and Suzanne, live in Brockport. His brother, 1st Lt. Nicholas Loudon, 25, is a member of the 82nd Airborne and is also serving in Iraq, Suzanne Laidacker said.

The distraught mother-in-law spoke about how the couple met. "He fell in love with our daughter at college and we fell in love with him," she said.

Jacey graduated from the Sullivan County School District in 2001, where her father, now retired, worked as an elementary teacher and guidance counselor. She and Loudon attended Slippery Rock University, where they met. It was "love at first sight," Suzanne Laidacker said.

Loudon enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in high school and college. While in high school he always thought about a military career.

The two graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2005 and Loudon received his commission as a second lieutenant. He also took the rigorous Ranger training, passing the test on his initial try, Suzanne Laidacker said.

She described her son-in-law as a "warrior" who "wanted to do his duty for his country."

Loudon leaves behind a 5-year-old daughter, she said.

Burial is expected to include full military honors. "He will no doubt receive the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and several other medals," Laidacker said.

Friends, family and members of the Zion Lutheran Church in Turbotville, where Jacey and her mother and father worship, are providing an outpouring of community support, Laidacker said.

So have employees at Kay Jewelers in the Lycoming Mall, where the widow works as a seasonal sales associate.

""We’re all pretty upset," said Judy Coup, Kay Jewelers assistant manager. "We’re all very close here."

A special account for Loudon’s family has been set up at Sovereign Bank, and donations may be made at any branch, according to Kate Pacacha, Lycoming Mall’s director of marketing.

"It is a savings account for Jacey that people can donate to," she said.

Army 2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon was killed in action on 10/17/06.

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