Lt. Col. Jaimie Leonard buried at West Point
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A fallen heroine returned Thursday to be buried in the ground on which she learned to march and to lead.
Lt. Col. Jaimie Leonard, a Warwick native and 1997 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was laid to rest with full military honors at the academy's cemetery after a funeral service at its Most Holy Trinity Chapel.
The Warwick Valley High School graduate was posthumously promoted from major to lieutenant colonel.
Leonard, 39, an intelligence officer, was killed in an "insider attack" when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on her and two other Americans from New York June 8 on an Afghan National Army base at Zarghun Shahr in the eastern province of Paktika. Leonard's body was flown back to the U.S. on June 12.
"We can't forget the sacrifices young people are making over in Afghanistan right now," said funeral attendee Paul Raider. "This was a senseless killing, not even combat-related. I'm here to pay my respects, my honor, for giving the ultimate sacrifice for this country."
About 60 people gathered at the cemetery on Thursday for a 20-minute graveside service, among them Brig. Gen. Richard Clarke, West Point's commandant of cadets. West Point Chaplain Timothy Valentine spoke, as did Leonard's stepmother, Sally Asebury Leonard of East Dorset, Vt. An honor guard of military police carried the flag-draped casket, and the traditional 21-gun salute was fired in Jaimie Leonard's honor.
Ceremonial American flags were presented to Leonard's stepmother and to her sister, Elizabeth Harman of Putnam Valley, who accepted the flag while flanked by her daughters.
The family was left alone at the end of the ceremony to grieve in private.
Three other Americans were wounded in the attack that killed Leonard and the attacker was shot dead soon after opening fire.
The other fatalities in the attack were Lt. Col. Todd Clark, 40, of Evans Mills, and private security contractor Joseph Morabito, 54, of Hunter in the Catskills. Morabito was working as part of a group training Afghan police officers.
Leonard and Clark, whose funeral was held Tuesday near his native Albany, both served in the 10th Mountain Division. Clark is survived by his parents and two children in addition to his wife.
Leonard is survived by four sisters and a brother. She held a 2007 master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Among her 29 awards and decorations are: two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
She deployed to Bosnia in 1999, to Iraq in 2005 and to Afghanistan in 2011 before returning there with her unit in January 2013.
Leonard is the second former Warwick resident slain in an "insider" attack in Afghanistan in two months. On May 4, Staff Sgt. Eric Christian was fatally shot by an Afghan soldier while he and five other Marines were escorting a U.S. official and two intelligence officers to a meeting at an Afghan Army base.
With Ken Schachter, Reuters and The Associated Press