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Lash La Rue Private First Class

| Canyon Country Magazine | March 16, 2012

The military was something I had always wanted to do. Throughout high school I knew the military was always going to be my back up plan if I didn’t get any scholarship offers to schools. I was 18 when I first left for basic. My family wasn’t surprised one bit. They knew I had always wanted to be a soldier, and they knew I would succeed in the military. However, they did not support my decision to join the army. My dad wanted me to join either the Air Force or Navy because he didn’t want me to be on the front lines in the Middle East. But my mind was set on Army the day my best friend, Matt Girard, left for the Army. He’s been by my side since we played high school football together and I wasn’t about to let him go to war without me.

Before I signed up for the Army, I was actually talking to Navy recruiters. I had considered the Navy for about two months, but then the Army won me over. I believe there were plenty of circumstances throughout my life that led to me joining the Army. Back when I played high school football under Coach Varner, he ran practice like we were soldiers in boot camp. Some days we wanted to quit, but we wouldn’t, because we would be quitting on each other. And the military is very similar – you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the brothers that are standing beside you.

Boot camp was fairly easy for me. The hardest part was the lack of food. The yelling didn’t bother me, because most of the time they started screaming I actually had to refrain myself from laughing. Physically boot camp was not very challenging. It’s all a mental game.

For my dad the most enjoyable part has been that I joined airborne and will become a paratrooper. He seems to get a real kick out of that. The most enjoyable part for me has been living in Germany. I feel like I have learned so much about their culture from being stationed here this past year.

My current occupation in the Army is an infantry man that specializes with the mortar system. I enjoy working with the mortar system because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The whole gun system weighs a little more than 300 pounds.

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I believe I had a great childhood. I was always in sports year round. My parents loved coming to all my sporting events and were always very supportive of everything I did as a child. I attended Canyon high school and played football all 4 years of high chool. Canyon football made me who I am today and I will always miss those Friday nights under the lights.

My plans for the military are simple – finish my four years and then get out. I do not plan on reenlisting in the military, and plan on someday becoming a firefighter once I’m back in the civilian world.

I will be deploying to Afghanistan this summer. I’m going with two of my best friends from high school, Parker Sutton and Charlie Cusumano. It seems like most of my friends decided to join the military, and that just goes to show how similar we all are. I don’t really think about deployment too much. That’s what I signed up to do and that’s my commitment. Plenty of other people just like me have gone over there and come back, so I know I can as well.

I still think about Canyon Country every day, and the amazing people that live there. It’s the greatest place on earth and I can’t wait to come back for good.

Dad’s Perspective

Lash and I had been discussing him going into the Military probably starting his junior year in high school. So, I was not surprised at all that he enlisted. However, I was very surprised that he enlisted in the Army. During our many father-son talks about what he wanted to do once graduating from high school; I thought he was going to get his AA diploma from COC, rehab his broken shoulder (football injury during his senior year at Canyon) then enlist in the Air Force or Navy. I felt that this would be a safer route than enlisting in the Army or Marines and he could still reap the rewards of the G.I. bill and learn how to live on his own.

I will never forget the day he called me at work and told me that he signed a contract for the Army. I was extremely upset, devastated. I believe I started yelling over the phone, “Why would you choose this branch? We discussed going into the Air Force or Navy.” I then asked what job he had signed up for, hoping that at least he would learn a trade. Lash then told me: “Infantry.” I was horrified, asking why would he do such a crazy thing, taking a chance risking his life, for what? Lash, upset with my reaction, told me: “I want to do something that is bigger than myself. I thought you would be proud of me; I love this country and I want to do my part helping keep our country safe.” He said some other choice words also. It took about a month for me to realize, WOW, Teri and I did a wonderful job raising such a courageous young man.

Boot Camp for Lash physically and mentally was a breeze; cowboy football taught him to be mentally and physically tough. The toughest part for him, was having to eat quickly. Lash loved to take his time eating his meals. For me, the toughest part was not having his smiling face around everyday. It is very difficult knowing that your little boy is becoming his own man. I’m sure every parent feels the same way, whether they are going off to college, starting a family of their own, or enlisting. Separation anxiety is hell. When Lash comes home to visit or when I talk to him on the phone; he seems the same. He is still that sweet, smiley Lash that I have known all his life. The only thing that is different is that he does not ask for anything. If he wants something, he does it on his own. Thank God.

After boot camp, Lash signed an Airborne contract and is stationed in Germany. He is part of the 91st Calvary scouts. He is part of a mortar men unit. Scouts, pretty scary! He will be scouting ahead of the rest of the unit. I have not quite accepted that yet.

Lash’s childhood was nothing but sports. He started playing football, baseball and basketball at four years old. He was always younger than the rest of his teammates, but that only made him more determined to try harder and hit harder than anyone else on the team. It wasn’t until his junior year that he decided to focus only on football. His senior year, he lost his beautiful mother,Teri La Rue, to cancer. Honoring his mother, he had the courage to speak about his mother in front of hundreds of people at her funeral. He did not miss a beat! At that moment, I realized that Lash was the most courageous son a mother and father could have. He played his best football game that night.

After the Army, I believe Lash wants to use his G.I. bill and get his four-year degree. There was a time that he wanted to be a fireman. Lash signed a four-year-17-week contract. The last time we talked, he said that he would not sign for another term. I hope he sticks to that, but time will tell. Lash is scheduled to go to Afghanistan in July, 2012 for a nine-month term. The whole 173rd Airborne unit will be there. Hopefully, he will meet up with his good friends, Parker Sutton and Charlie Cusumano (both Canyon Cowboys).
My initial thoughts on Lash going over there were: “This is what he signed up for – to serve and protect this great nation of ours.” God has a plan for all of us and this is His plan for Lash and all the others that are out risking their lives for our freedom. I am so proud of our Canyon Country boys and pray daily that they will finish their term healthy and ready to take on any challenges that are in front of them. I would also like to thank Coach Chris Varner in helping develop our boys into courageous young men who are not afraid to take unselfish risks.

About Jean Sutton

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