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Hundreds attend soldier’s funeral in Minden

MINDEN — Chief Warrant Officer Joshua Robert Rodgers was remembered Sunday as a dedicated soldier who was devoted to his wife and three daughters whether at home or in the Middle East.

Rodgers, 29, died May 30 with four other crew members when his CH47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, where he was deployed the day his youngest daughter was born.

More than 600 people attended the soldier’s funeral, which was held on the softball field at Douglas High School where Rodgers graduated almost 10 years ago to the day.

"As much as I don’t want to believe God could take this perfect life from me, I need you to believe in God so I can be at peace," said his wife, Casey Gilder Rodgers.

Rodgers’ three daughters, Madison, 7, Autumn, 3, and Ashlyn, 2, attended the service along with his parents, stepparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Madison wrapped herself in her father’s Army jacket while the two younger girls wandered among mourners, occasionally being scooped into a lap or receiving a hug.

Family friend and veteran Tim Van Meter said how impressed he was that so many people attended the service.

"I am so proud that America has come forth to support our fallen soldiers," he said. "I don’t just cry for Josh, but for the men and women who have given their lives for 200 years."

Chief Warrant Officer Cesar Lariano, a member of Rodgers’ unit from Fort Bragg, N.C., recalled that Rodgers’ youngest daughter was born on the day the unit was deployed. "Josh thought it was the right thing to do to go," Lariano said.

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