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Fallen Hero Gone, But Not Forgotten

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10 years after Sgt. Landis Garrison of Rapids City, Illinois, died while serving, friends and family held a special memorial in his honor Saturday. He was a soldier, police officer, and a volunteer firefighter with the Port Byron Fire Department. Aaron Harlan met him while working at a neighboring fire station.

"We miss you, buddy," Harlan said. "We all miss you."

Sgt. Garrison was with the 333rd Military Police Company based out of Freeport, Illinois.

"He felt that there was a desire to serve, and to give back to this country and this community," said Chief Don Carey of the Rapids City Fire Protection District/Port Byron Fire Department.

Sgt. Garrison had been in Iraq for more than one year when he passed away from an accidental gunshot wound in 2004. William Longmore served with him.

"He made a huge impact on our community," Longmore said.

"Very unselfish, loving, very caring individual," Harlan added.

Dozens of people gathered at the Coal Valley Cemetery to honor him.

"10 years later, to have the support of the community, and family and soldiers coming from New York and Colorado just to be a part of today, I know is healing not only for me, but the other firemen, the other soldiers, and especially his family," Longmore said.

Throughout the years since his death, the loss has been marked. His name was added to a monument at the Rock Island County Court House and the Illinois State Fair.

"This is kind of a monument," Chief Carey said. "This needed to be a larger scale."

Family, friends, and members from the Patriot Guard, Military Police, and the Rapids City Fire Protection District/Port Byron Fire Department all attended the memorial.

"There's firefighters that never knew him that are here," Chief Carey said.

Those who knew him say they are cherishing the good times while dealing with the loss.

"I don't think it's about remembering Landis today because nobody has ever forgotten," Harlan said.

"The biggest thing that you'd remember is the big old belt buckle," Longmore added. "He was extremely a cowboy."

Even as the US continues its troop drawdown in the Middle East, more than 33,000 American troops are reportedly still fighting in Afghanistan right now.

"War is tragedy for both sides," Chief Carey said. "We've suffered ours, and we're trying to get over that."

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