Updated: 05-03-2004 10:20:34 AM

Port Byron, Illinois Firefighter Killed In Iraq

Courtesy of WQAD News

RAPIDS CITY -- Friends and family mourn the death of a local soldier who died in the war with Iraq.

Sgt. Landis Garrison 23, of Rapids City, died yesterday in combat. He served with the 333rd Military Police unit out of Freeport.

The Illinois Army National Guard tonight isn't saying how Sgt. Garrison was killed. His family in Rapids City got the news of his death late Thursday night with a knock at their door. Then the fire department was paged.

Inside, a lot of hugs and tears. Outside, flags fly at half staff outside the Port Byron Fire Station in tribute to Sgt. Landis Garrison.

“He just, he had a heart of gold,” said firefighter Tony DeCap.

For his friends and fellow firefighters on the small department, the fact he won't be coming back, still sinking in.

“Great guy, he'd do anything for you, had a big heart,” he added, nodding.

Garrison was only 23, but started on the fire department here when he was just 17.

In Iraq, as a military police officer now for a year, Garrison’s friends at the fire station kept in touch, publicly showing their support and pride for their soldier.

“He wanted to serve his country like everything else he did, he did it 110 percent.”

Garrison was supposed to be home now. His unit actually he got to the airport and was sent back north.”

His friends here just got an email from Landis on Sunday, who told them he was headed back into Iraq Monday, thanking them for their support and assuring them a welcome home party was in the works.

“Greatest, fun-loving guy I ever had to meet,” said firefighter Steve Sallows. “I'll never forget him.”

Garrison was also a part-time police officer for Hampton.

Funeral arrangements are still pending, but we're told it may be held in Riverdale High School to accommodate all the people.