EDMOND, OK, US
1LT, CO A, 1ST BN, 179TH INF REGT, 45TH IBCT, EDMOND, OK
08/14/2011, ALINGAR DISTRICT, LAGHMAN, AFGHANISTAN
Mourners were moved to laughter as they remembered Oklahoma Army National Guard 1st Lt. Damon Leehan’s sense of humor, and then to tears as the pall of his loss choked up the crowd.
Leehan was killed in Afghanistan Aug. 14, when a military vehicle he was riding in struck an IED. About 1,500 people — including friends, relatives and military family — gathered Thursday inside Henderson Hills Baptist Church to celebrate Leehan’s life. Outside the church, dozens held flags and lined the streets in support of the soldier.
Leehan, 30, of Moore, was killed by an improvised explosive device Aug. 14 in the Laghman province of eastern Afghanistan. He served as a platoon leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 179 Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Edmond, according to military officials. Three other soldiers were injured in the blast that struck a truck in which Leehan was riding.
It was Leehan’s second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His first 13-month tour was in 2003, and he served as an Army medic. Leehan returned to Afghanistan nearly two months ago as an infantry officer.
“Damon was a man who loved greatly and was greatly loved,” said his sister-in-law, Tiffany Nance. “He wasn’t just a soldier in a uniform who died in Afghanistan — he was our everything.”
Family and friends remembered Leehan as a staunchly devoted family man, the kind of father who came home and jumped on the ground to play with his young children. He would stay up late to spend time with his wife, putting his studies last before going to bed to get a few hours of sleep and going back to work the next morning.
“I’ve known a lot of soldiers, and he was at the top,” longtime military friend Maj. Bill Phillips said. Phillips said Leehan’s priorities were his family and his soldiers.
“He was goal-oriented. He didn’t seek the limelight, but it found him,” Phillips said.
Below the pulpit, a family photo of Leehan with wife Audrey, 30, daughter Emma, 4, and son Ethan, 1, was surrounded by flowers. A camouflaged combat helmet hung above it. Dozens of Leehan’s co-workers from Integris Southwest Medical Center attended the funeral in black hospital scrubs. Leehan had worked as a radiology technician at the hospital since 2001 and was studying to become a radiology assistant.
Pastor Rodney Fouts reminded mourners of Leehan’s positive outlook on life, his leadership and his love. “He knew he was doing what he was called to do,” Fouts said.
Leehan enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard at 17. He graduated from Edmond North High School, where he played football. He was a noncommissioned officer for 10 years and graduated from officer candidate school in 2008.
Damon and Audrey Leehan would have celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary Sept. 17.