Based: Camp Greaves, South Korea
1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment,
2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 28, 2005
High School: Loara High (Anaheim)
Burial: Los Angeles National Cemetery, Westwood
ANAHEIM - Two years ago, senior Samuel Lee lined up with fellow Junior ROTC members for his school's pre-Memorial Day service, shortly before carrying out his dream of joining the U.S. Army.
On Friday, his parents and sister attended in his place, clutching a picture of the soldier who died in Iraq in March.
For the past nine years, Loara High School has honored its veterans with a whole-school assembly featuring a memorial balloon release.
This year's service took on a special meaning for employees and students as the reality of war hit home.
"His (balloon) was the most important to us because he was a Saxon, too," said senior Laura Reyna, 17. "Most of them, we don't know them, but they still matter."
Lee, the son of Korean immigrants who was born and raised in Anaheim, stood out as a leader in JROTC, which he joined his freshman year.
Just a month or so after graduation, Lee left town for the U.S. Army. He specifically requested an assignment in Korea so he could see his father's homeland. Lee was stationed there before deployment to Iraq.
On March 28, Lee died of non-combat related injuries. [Family friend] Mary Lingenfelter said the family still doesn't know the cause of death, which is under investigation. Lee's family declined to comment.