For the second time in less than a year, mourners gathered Friday afternoon to say goodbye to a young Caldwell High School graduate killed in Iraq.
Hundreds filled the Caldwell Stake Center for the funeral of Pfc. Jacob Allcott, 21, who was killed April 22 near Baghdad when his Humvee caught fire after a roadside bomb exploded nearby.
Allcott's death came a little more than 10 months after Army Spec. Carrie French, 19, was killed in Kirkuk, Iraq, when her vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
Allcott and French barely missed each other at Caldwell High School. Allcott graduated in 2002 and French attended for her senior year, in 2003.
The loss of two young people has been devastating to the school community, said Julie Yamamoto, who was principal at Caldwell High when Allcott and French attended.
"At that age you think you're invincible," she said. For young people, she said, dealing with death "is a rite of passage, and a sad rite of passage."
At the Friday service, friends and family stressed that Allcott, who is at least the 20th Idahoan to die in the U.S. war on terrorism that began in 2001, died while on a mission he believed in. Allcott was "loyal and had an acute sense of justice," family friend Kathi O'Bannon said.
"It has been said that a hero is not perfect, but someone who makes a difference, and I think you can see that Jacob made a difference in many lives," O'Bannon said.
"Jacob we love you, we will miss you, but for now we know you are on to other missions, other lessons."
Allcott's father, Bruce Allcott, retired as fire chief in Caldwell in 2004. Fire, police and rescue workers from as far away as Lewiston filled the seats of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center, a touching tribute to Jacob Allcott's sacrifice, Bruce Allcott said.
"(Jacob) was a very strong-willed person ... but he also knew what was right and was dedicated to doing what was right," Bruce Allcott said.
Shortly after an honor guard placed Jacob Allcott's flag-draped coffin in a white hearse, Bruce Allcott said he is proud of the example set by his son.
"He just wanted to be out there, doing his job, helping the people over there," he said.
Jacob Allcott was born in Idaho Falls and later moved to Caldwell. He graduated in 2002 from Caldwell High School where he played on the tennis team and was in the Political Science Club.
Allcott was a talented musician who would greet visitors with guitar in hand and new song to play, O'Bannon said.
After high school, Allcott attended Utah State and Boise State universities before joining the Army in 2004. He was deployed to Iraq in November, 2005 with the 1st Squadron, 67th Armored Regiment, Second Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, Brigadier Gen. Alan Gayhart, who commanded the Idaho National Guard's 116th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, and Idaho Adjutant General Larry LaFrenz attended the services.
Risch praised Allcott for joining the Army despite the high likelihood of serving in Iraq.
"He will be recorded in history as a casualty in the war against terrorism but, more than that, he will be remembered by us as a peacemaker, a guardian of democracy and liberty," Risch said.
Jacob Allcott will be buried today in the eastern Idaho town of Iona.