A small town seemed sadly quiet Wednesday, waiting to honor a local fallen warrior.
Word of Spc.. Arronn D. Fields’ death had spread throughout his hometown by Wednesday afternoon, and officials said they’re preparing to honor his life and service. According to a release issued by Joint Forces Headquarters of the Indiana National Guard, the 27-year-old soldier from Knightsville died Monday as a result of injuries sustained during a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Qal-ah-ye Mirza Jal, Afghanistan.
Fields deployed in January with the 381st Military Police Company, 81st Troop Command as part of Task Force Guardian, a multi-unit military police force from Indiana.
Flags throughout Brazil remained at full staff Wednesday, per policy set forth by the state, which allows for a half-staff posting on the day of the funeral, according to a spokesman from the Indiana governor’s office.
But down on Depot Street, one lone American flag was lowered, as members of the Brazil Moose Lodge 780 took it upon themselves to show their respects. Inside the club, Linda Wright said the organization’s officers made the decision Tuesday evening upon learning of Fields’ death.
“They did it last night on their own. They did it in his honor,” she said, expressing her condolences to his family for a loss she hates to see. “I hate it. It’s just one of those tragedies.”
Mayor Brian Wyndham and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1127 Commander Bob Bigley said their respective organizations were still waiting for details so as to assist with funeral arrangements.
“It’s a tragedy any time something like this happens,” Wyndham said, explaining how interrelated families in the small town are, and how deaths such as Fields’ cut across broad swaths of people.
Bigley said he was notified of the death in combat Tuesday and the organization was prepared to offer its services.
“We will do anything and everything that the family would request us to do,” he said.
Indiana National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, stated in a release that Fields’ service in combat is a testament to his character.
“Specialist Fields is the 23rd Indiana Guardsman to fall since 2001, and in the coming days the state of Indiana, a state that owes him an un-payable debt, will learn much about his character, his sense of duty and pride,” Umbarger stated.
Fields enlisted in 2006, not long after graduating from Northview High School in 2003.
Two of his teachers, Christy Cassassa and Laura Boyce, described him as a special student they remember well. Fields had both teachers for various classes each of his four years there, and wrote a personal letter of nomination on Cassassa’s behalf for the Golden Apple Award.
“That was something that he did. Not a lot of kids think to do that,” Boyce said.
Cassassa said she kept in touch with Fields over the years. His decision to become a soldier surprised her a bit, but the role seemed to suit him well, she said.
“He was a good writer,” she remarked, recalling how Fields enjoyed working on stories while a student. “And they were good stories. He was good at it.”
Among his goals was to graduate college and become a history teacher, they said.
Both agreed war casualties are always tragic.
“It’s never nice to hear of a soldier dying,” Boyce said. “But when you see it on television and it’s someone you know, and it was a young person with a lot of promise, it just makes it worse.”
Reporter Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.