Vermonters say farewell to a fallen soldier - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermonters say farewell to a fallen soldier

Sgt. Tristan Southworth Sgt. Tristan Southworth

Hardwick, Vermont - September 1, 2010

Hundreds gathered in Hardwick to remember their neighbor, Sgt. Tristan Southworth.

"It's an awesome gathering today," said Lt. Col. Calvin Kemp, the chaplain. "And we are reminded that it is God who has gathered us here today. And he has gathered us here today for a victory celebration."

A celebration to remember the Green Mountain Boy who was killed last month in Afghanistan while trying to rescue a fellow soldier.

"We also see the evidence of his victory in his ultimate sacrifice for this nation," Kemp said. "The lord did truly lead Tristan with courage to serve this nation and this world. The lord truly gave Tristan a victory."

His funeral was held on the Hazen Union basketball court-- the same spot where the tremendous athlete led his teammates to many victories.

"Tristan's life was a life of striving to always to excel. It happened over and over right here," Kemp said.

And on the baseball field, the pitcher could dazzle his opponents with his fast balls and curve balls.

"He was very competitive and he would tolerate no slack and he gave grief to his teammates. He wanted them all to succeed," Kemp said.

His success began in his hometown of Walden. Sgt. Southworth's death has left a big hole in the hearts of many in the small town.

"He wanted to go out into the world," Kemp said. "He thought there was something beyond Walden. And when he expressed that to his mom, of course like a mom she became anxious, but he would say, as a good son would say to his mother, don't worry Mom. I have got connections and he went into the world with connections."

Connections that began at Hazen. During high school, the honor student completed a project about his life. It was on display at his funeral.

"He thought life should have a little Calvin and Hobbs in it," Kemp said. "That yes, put your nose to the grindstone but have a little play along the way. Enjoy life. Go for it but have a good time."

Friends and family were important to this member of the Vermont National Guard-- a young man who did not want anyone to feel alone.

He wrote about his cousin who was killed in the Vietnam War.

"In Tristan's short but powerful words; he gave his highest respect to the man that would do that," Kemp said.

The 21-year-old was honored posthumously; promoted from Specialist to Sergeant, awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Medals awarded to a fallen friend, teammate and soldier whose short life made a tremendous impact on his community, state and country.

Another Green Mountain Boy, Sgt. Steven DeLuzio, was killed in the same incident. His funeral was held Monday in Connecticut.

Anson Tebbetts - WCAX News

Related Stories:

Fallen soldier returns home

Walden mourns fallen soldier

2 Vermont guard members killed in Afghanistan

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