Soldier remembered for duty, devotion

Sgt. Moudry of Perry Hall died in Iraq

October 15, 2006|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,Sun reporter

They came not to only to remember the dedicated soldier, but also the boy with the mischievous smile, the student who doodled spaceships in his notebooks.

Mourners at yesterday's funeral Mass for Staff Sgt. Christopher O. Moudry spoke of his two tours of duty in Iraq, where he was killed in an attack, as well as the pranks he pulled at Boy Scout camp. They recalled a friend always willing to help and a father who cherished time with his three children.

More than 300 relatives, friends and Boy Scouts from Moudry's former troop gathered at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Fullerton to say goodbye. Many wiped tears from their eyes as the Rev. Steve Sutton read from the Boy Scout oath as part of the eulogy.

"`On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law,'" Sutton said. "Chris kept that promise."

Moudry, 31, grew up in Perry Hall, where he was a member of Boy Scout Troop 746. He attended parochial school at St. Joseph and graduated from Perry Hall High School in 1993 before enlisting in the Army two years later.

Most recently, he had made his home in Killeen, Texas, with his girlfriend, Nikki Vandennicker, and their 18-month-old son, Ashton Moudry.

He was among four soldiers from a Texas-based unit killed by small-arms fire in Taji, Iraq, on Oct. 4, according to the Department of Defense.

At the final signing during yesterday's service, mourners flocked to the soldier's parents, James and Marie Moudry of Abdingdon, and his three children.

In one of the day's most poignant moments, Sergeant Moudry's former wife, Karie Warfield, stood in the front of the church and read aloud a letter that their son, Chase Moudry, 9, had written to his father after his death.

"Dear Daddy, I miss playing games with you, especially my GameCube games. I was planning to see you at Christmas this year, and it makes me sad that I won't see you," Warfield read.

The letter concluded, "I'm also sad that you weren't able to call me back from Iraq before you died, because I just wanted to tell you that I love you."

Sergeant Moudry's stepdaughter, Kaila Warfield, 11, fought tears as she read a letter that she had written. "In my heart, you are the most famous person," she said.

The choir sang a slow hymn as Sutton swung incense around the casket. Then, in crisp movements, soldiers draped the American flag on the casket.

Soldiers in gleaming-buttoned dress uniforms and members of the Knights of Columbus carried the casket from the church.

Outside, dozens of bikers wearing black leather saluted the coffin. Flags waved on the backs of their motorcycles. Bikers have stood guard at military funerals since members of a Kansas church began protesting at some of the funerals a few years ago. No one protested at Moudry's funeral.

Baltimore County police halted traffic along the funeral procession's route to Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium. Along westbound Interstate 695 and northbound I-83, motorists stopped along on-ramps to watch the nearly mile-long procession of cars pass. Some saluted.

A grave had been dug for Sergeant Moudry in a section of the cemetery reserved for veterans and their families. Family members clung to one another under a green tent as a bugler played taps. Then the cemetery was quiet, save for the cawing of crows.

After the service, Albert Sklar of Perry Hall, Sergeant Moudry's former Scout leader, reminisced. "That grin, that glint in his eye -- he had that boyish charm, but he was strong inside," he said.

Sklar's wife, Angela, taught Sergeant Moudry art when he was a student at St. Joseph. She remembered his creativity and fascination with Star Trek. "He included a starship in a lot of things you wouldn't normally draw a starship in," she said.

Their son, Christopher Sklar, was one of Sergeant Moudry's closest childhood friends.

Sergeant Moudry became more serious and disciplined in the military, Albert Sklar said. He had cut off his long hair when he enlisted and had grown quieter after his first tour of duty in Iraq. He rarely spoke about his experiences,

"We're all real proud of him, though,"Albert Sklar said.

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