L'ANSE, MICHIGAN- All give some. Some give all.
Army Pfc Robert L. Voakes Jr., 21, of L'Anse gave all.
Voakes, along with three others in his company, was killed during an insurgent attack Saturday just three months into a 15-month Operation Enduring Freedom deployment in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.
"He always gave of himself and was an inspiration and example to others," Valerie Voakes, Robert's mother, said Wednesday. "We had so many wonderful times, and were a close-knit family. There are so many great memories."
Robert was named after his father, Robert Sr., and was the youngest of five children.
He had twin sisters and two older brothers, one of whom also spent a year overseas with the National Guard.
Robert was a 2009 graduate of Baraga High School before enlisting in the military that November.
He went through basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri before being stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
He was part of the 164th Military Police Company (called the "Arctic Enforcers"), 793rd Military Police Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
"He was so dedicated, and he knew what he wanted to do. Joining the military was by no means a quick decision for him, and he researched every branch," Valerie said. "He told me, 'This is what I want to do - I'm here for my country and my community.' It's so hard to lose someone so young with so much ambition."
Robert was active in sports, basketball being his favorite, and he volunteered his time with kids while in high school. He spent time with the Beartown Firefighters and was an active member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
"He was very deeply rooted in the KBIC and culture and participated as a dancer in powwows as a kid," Valerie said.
It was Robert's personality that most jumped out to those around him.
"He had a great, subtle humor and he was a really funny kid," said Bruce Rundman, Baraga guidance counselor and former basketball coach for Robert. "He was not the class clown though, and was a quiet, thoughtful, gentle soul."
Even during the intense times of grief for the Voakes family, it was the humorous memories that have helped them get through this difficult time.
"He was such a jokester, and I'm sure he probably gave his soldiers a nice break during some of their hard times as well," Valerie said.
"I'm really blown away, and there just isn't any way to process something like this," Rundman said. "I think the community support is incredible, and I wouldn't anticipate anything less than full-out support from the Baraga community."
People are encouraged to tie yellow and black ribbons in honor of Robert-
"I'm so overwhelmed by the support," Valerie said. "There's people I don't even know helping out and we've been overloaded with e-mails and phone calls - people can't comprehend how grateful I am."
By: Jason Asselin
Tags: tribute, memorial, video, remember, troops, soldier, USA, Army, killed, KIA, funeral
Location: Iron Mountain, Michigan, United States (load item map)
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