RENO - National Guardsmen remembered Sgt. Patrick Stewart of Fernley as a soldier who loved both his role as a helicopter repair technician and as a husband during military services Wednesday at Reno's San Rafael Regional Park.
The one-hour military service in the Kleiner Oak Grove featured a 21-gun salute and a flyover by three helicopters from the Nevada Army National Guard's aviation facility at Stead. On the belly of one helicopter was written "Bye, Pat."
Stewart, 34, and four other Guardsmen died Sept. 25 when Taliban rebels allegedly shot down their CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan. Another Nevada Guardsman, Chief Warrant Officer 2 John M. Flynn of Sparks, was also killed. Services for him were held Monday.
Both soldiers served with Company D, 113th Aviation, based at Stead. The unit was activated in January and deployed to Afghanistan in March.
Brig Gen. Randall Sayre, commander of the Army Guard in Nevada, said Stewart knew he could be called up for duty, either for a stateside mission or overseas to fight terrorism.
Stewart, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Army Reserve and the Nevada Army National Guard, had served in Desert Storm.
"He understood when his unit was called up for Afghanistan - he knew the environment was dangerous and would be a challenge to his unit," Sayre told the crowd of approximately 300.
Sayre, a former helicopter pilot, said he would've flown with Stewart under any circumstances.
"If anything went wrong, he wouldn't leave me or my comrades alone," Sayre said.
Sayre acknowledged Christy Flynn, who attended the funeral to support Stewart's wife, Roberta.
"Wherever your lives take you, we will be there to smooth the waters," he said.
After he spoke, Sayre gave Roberta Stewart several medals presented on her husband's behalf including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Chief Warrant Officer Aaron Sutherland read a letter from the unit's commander, Maj. Roger Capps.
According to Capps' comments, 210 soldiers crowded into a cargo plane to say their farewells to Flynn and Stewart.
"Patrick's death was not in vain. He did not suffer," Capps wrote. "He was not alone. He was in the service with other honorable men.
Sgt. 1st Class Stan Smith, Stewart's platoon sergeant, said he enjoyed the times spent with his friend, especially rock collecting. Smith then reflected on Stewart's home life.
"He was lucky to have Roberta as a wife because he felt everything he touched, it turned to gold," he said. "Pat found his unique rock, and that was Roberta."
Retired Guardsmen and Washoe County sheriff's deputy Jim McNeill also read some comments from an Oregon soldier who befriended Stewart.
McNeill said the Oregon soldier felt Stewart had a heart of gold and good sense of humor.
"I thank him for making us laugh and being a friend," the soldier wrote.
Besides his wife of two years, Stewart is survived by his 15-year-old son, Raymond, and 12-year-old adopted daughter, Alexandria.
Stewart's family is encouraging people to donate to the Patrick D. Stewart Family Fund through the Bank of America.