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Carlos Wilcox: Fallen soldier put to rest

Lines traveled around the church and through the parking lot of Light the Way Church Friday at the wake preceding the memorial service for Carlos Wilcox.(Bulletin photo by Patricia Drey Busse)1 / 2
Friends and family follow the hearse carrying Carlos Wilcox's body from his memorial service at Light the Way Church to a luncheon at Rose of Sharon Lutheran Church across the street Friday.(Bulletin photo by Patricia Drey Busse)2 / 2

Hundreds squeezed into Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove Friday for the funeral of Carlos Wilcox IV, a Minnesota National Guard soldier who was killed while serving in Iraq.

Wilcox was killed Thursday, July 16 by indirect insurgent fire in Basra, along with two other guardsmen. Members of the public with flags lined 80th Street before the service as Wilcox's body was taken from Kok Funeral Home to the church.

Wilcox was remembered as someone who lived life to the fullest, and was a great friend.

John Magee, senior pastor of Light the Way Church, talked about an e-mail he received after Wilcox's death.

It was from a girl who attended Tartan High School with Wilcox and recounted how he delivered her homework for her and helped her with it while she was home sick for two weeks with mononucleosis.

"No one else realized she was gone," Magee said, citing the e-mail.

Magee credited Wilcox's mother, Charlene Wilcox -- a math teacher at Cottage Grove Middle School -- with passing on a "spirit of friendship" to her children.

"Friends lay down their lives for people they don't even know," Magee said.

Longtime friend Nathan Montpetit wrote a piece of rap in Wilcox's honor including the lines:

"You became a hero the second you crossed that sea," and, "You know my heart is forever broken to lose my best friend."

Another longtime friend who was serving with Wilcox in Basra, Lt. Michael Griffis, said he encouraged everyone gathered to live life to the fullest like Wilcox did.

Speakers praised Wilcox as a strong man and a hero, but they also shared some lighthearted anecdotes about him.

Griffis recalled rollerblading in the garage together as children, and Magee talked about the "alter-egos" Wilcox would take on when a bill collector or salesperson called his house.

Following the service, mourners followed the hearse on foot across the street to Rose of Sharon Lutheran Church for a luncheon.

Dignitaries including Gov. Tim Pawlenty attended the memorial service.