CHARLOTTE, NC, US
SGT, TROOP C, 4TH SQUADRON, 73D CAVALRY, FORT BRAGG, NC
09/29/2007, FIREBASE WILDERNESS, AFGHANISTAN
A Manchester West High School graduate who rescued two fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle six months ago died from wounds received while on ground patrol in Afghanistan, military officials at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said yesterday.
Zachary D. Tellier, a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, listed his official address as Charlotte but considered himself a Manchester, N.H., resident, said his mother, Pamela Morse, of Falmouth, Mass. Tellier, who was 31, died Saturday, and Morse said she learned of his death Sunday afternoon.
Tellier died from gunshot wounds received during a prolonged firefight with the Taliban, said his wife, Sara Tellier.
Tellier (pronounced te-LEAR) attended grade school and middle school in Bedford and graduated from West High School in 1994, Morse said. He graduated from American University, returned to Manchester and moved to Charlotte in 2004. He was working as a carpenter when he enlisted two years ago, his mother said.
“He wanted to feel successful at a job. He wasn’t feeling like he was in control of his own success in any job he had,” Morse said. He married his wife, a former Nashua resident, in June 2006. In August, Tellier started a blog. Entries include:
The Afghan mountains: “something out of Lord of the Rings.” His frustration with Afghan people: “Their (Afghan National Army) platoon sergeant already threatened to kill me.” His love of non-alcoholic beer: “Is it possible, but I think I’m a non-alcoholic.” Changes in himself: “As I was stripping my funky clothes off yesterday before my shower, I realized I’ve never felt more alive, more satisfied with what I’m doing.”
Tellier pulled two comrades from a burning vehicle in April. At the time, his unit was conducting a mounted patrol when one of its vehicles drove over and detonated a bomb, which set the vehicle on fire, according to a statement from the 82nd Airborne.
He suffered severe burns to his hands and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with valor and the Purple Heart.
After he was burned, Tellier jumped up in the turret to return fire, said Sergeant Michael Layton, a member of Tellier’s unit. A lieutenant made Tellier get out of the vehicle because of his injuries, Layton said.
“Zachary Tellier has to be the biggest hero I’ve ever known or heard of, not just because of what he did, but because of his personality,” Layton said. “He came in the Army because he wanted to be around soldiers and serve his country, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Morse said her son detested his hospital stay while recovering from his burns. “He loved his guys (in his unit). He talked about them all the time,” she said.
He was due to return to the United States for two weeks on leave. He had planned to spend a week on a desert island with his wife and a week in New England with his friends and family, Morse said.
Tellier is survived by his wife; his father, David W. Tellier of Groton, Mass.; and two brothers: James Tellier of Seattle and Daniel Tellier of Groton, Mass.