Let the memory of SSgt Brian be with us forever
  • Passed away on August 6, 2003 .

35, of Freeport, Minn.; assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died of injuries received when an Iraqi vehicle fired upon his unit during an ambush Aug. 6 in Baghdad.

N.C. soldier, Minnesota native remembered at Salisbury funeral

Associated Press

SALISBURY, N.C. — A Fort Bragg soldier killed in the line of duty in Iraq was remembered Thursday as a man devoted to his military career.

Staff Sgt. Brian Richard Hellermann was fatally injured Aug. 6 when an Iraqi vehicle opened fire on Hellermann’s 82nd Airborne unit.

At Thursday’s funeral in the chapel at Lyerly Funeral Home, brother-in-law Jamie Livengood read a letter he wrote to Hellermann after his death — one he said he had meant to write for months.

“Brother-in-law, brother I never had,” Livengood read. “It makes me feel better knowing that you went home the way you wanted to go.”

More than 150 mourners filled pews in the small chapel, many weeping and hugging as Hellermann was remembered and songs were played in tribute to him.

His flag-draped coffin rested at the front of the chapel.

A native of Freeport, Minn., Hellermann leaves a wife, Rowan County native Michelle Livengood Hellermann, and two children — son Travis and daughter Katelyn.

He also is survived by his mother, Caroline Hellermann Erickson, and stepfather Wally Erickson, both of Freeport.

Jamie Livengood told his brother-in-law that he will wear patches from Hellermann’s military uniform every day on his work clothes.

“I want you to be my anchor, forever looking over my shoulder, watching over me,” he said.

“You gave your all, family,” the Rev. Billy Ray Huffman, pastor at Parkdale Baptist Church in Salisbury, told survivors. “You gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Huffman, a longtime minister to the Livengood family, said he spoke with Hellermann’s commanding officer in Iraq.

“He did his job,” Huffman said. “He went about his job quietly. ... Brian carried on like so many of you, he carried on his duties and we never heard anything about Brian. ...

“America, we need to wake up. This very freedom we have today is threatened. Thank God for those who give. This is not for nothing — it is not for nothing.”

Huffman played recordings of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” and Clint Black’s “Half The Man” — an apparent tribute to Hellermann’s stepfather.

And he turned to the Bible, citing John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

When a balky compact disc player stymied Huffman’s effort to play a final song — Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High On That Mountain” — Tom Killgore, a Fort Bragg-based chaplain for the 82nd Airborne, stepped in.

“I’m no Vince Gill, but my mama did teach me to read,” Killgore told the mourners before reading from the lyrics: “Go rest high on that mountain son, your work on earth is done. Go to heaven a-shoutin’ love for the Father and the Son.”

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