Fallen soldier laid to rest in Oakland Sunday

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An area soldier is laid to rest this weekend.

Twenty-six-year-old First Lieutenant Jared Southworth of Oakland was remembered in a visitation Saturday and funeral Sunday. His funeral at Oakland High School drew a large crowd.

The Illinois National Guard soldier was killed in Afghanistan February 8 when a roadside bomb exploded. He deployed on his first tour about two months ago and was expected home in June. Friends say Southworth's service in the National Guard was one of his proudest achievements.

A soldier in his unit in Marion says even though Southworth is gone, his personality will not be forgotten.

"I'll miss him," said First Sergeant Rod Sides, "but you know at the same time you just got to keep moving forward and pay our respects and never forget."

Those who knew him describe Southworth as outgoing, very funny and a man with small town values with a love for his family and a love of his country. One of Southworth's close friends described one of their final conversations.

"He was talking about his family and talking about the up and coming mission. He really loved what he did and that's been an encouragement to me because a lot of people live their whole life and don't do something they love," said Justin Hoff.

Southworth leaves behind his wife and four children. He also served as a police officer in Oakland.

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