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Moody AFB honors sacrifice of a Hampton, Va., native

A 'fallen soldier'' memorial was set up in the chapel at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. in memory of Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis. Airman Chavis, from the 824th Security Forces Squadron, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after he was killed while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

A 'fallen soldier'' memorial was set up in the chapel at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. in memory of Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis. Airman Chavis, from the 824th Security Forces Squadron, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after he was killed while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

The commander of the 820th Security Forces Group, Col. John Decknick (right) and wife Sammie with Col. Joe Callahan, 23rd Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Mazzi, 23rd Wing command chief, reflect during the memorial service for Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis Oct. 19. Security force member Airman Chavis was killed Oct. 14 in the line of duty while on joint patrol with the Iraqi police in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

The commander of the 820th Security Forces Group, Col. John Decknick (right) and wife Sammie with Col. Joe Callahan, 23rd Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Mazzi, 23rd Wing command chief, reflect during the memorial service for Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis Oct. 19. Security force member Airman Chavis was killed Oct. 14 in the line of duty while on joint patrol with the Iraqi police in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis from 824th Security Forces Squadron, was honored Oct. 19, 2006 during a memorial service held in the base chapel at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Airman Chavis was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after he was killed Oct. 14 while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis from 824th Security Forces Squadron, was honored Oct. 19, 2006 during a memorial service held in the base chapel at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Airman Chavis was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart after he was killed Oct. 14 while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Manuel Martinez)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (ACCNS) -- Members from various groups and squadrons here gathered to honor the life and sacrifices of Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis Oct. 19, 2006, at the base chapel. 

Airman Chavis was killed Oct. 14, 2006, in the line of duty while performing duties as a turret gunner with his security forces' team while on joint patrol with the Iraqi police in the vicinity of Baghdad, Iraq. 

During the ceremony, people said Airman Chavis was remembered for his upbeat personality that lent a positive mood to friends and fellow Airmen. 

"There were times when I would get off work angry, but if I went to Chavis' room, I'd forget all about it," said Willie Harrell, a friend of Airman Chavis who spoke at the ceremony. "There was never a dull moment when I was working with him. 

During Mr. Harrell's speech, he asked the attendees to stand and clap for his fallen comrade, marking one of the ceremony's emotional climaxes. 

In addition to Airman Chavis' cheerful persona, he was also remembered as a thoughtful friend and companion who deeply cared for his fellow Airmen, said Staff Sgt. Belon Durham, 824th Security Forces Squadron. 

"He always came by to ask me how I was doing or if I needed anything, and he did that for everyone," she said. "He was always there for me and was just a wonderful person - always laughing and smiling." 

Airman Chavis, 21, native of Hampton, Va., entered the Air Force on March 31, 2004, and later served two tours in Iraq. 

During his recent deployment to Baghdad, Airman Chavis conducted 37 patrols as a lead vehicle gunner, wile contributing to training of more than 200 Iraqi policemen. 

"Airman Chavis was mortally wounded while securing the site of a suspected improvised explosive device," said Col. John Decknick, 820th Security Forces Group commander. "He did this while protecting the lives of countless innocent Iraqi civilians in an area known to be a hub of anti-Iraqi force enemy activity. 

"Fully aware that sniper and IED attacks in recent weeks had killed or injured scores of Iraqi police and civilians in the vicinity, he steadfastly maintained his tactical position and never wavered from his combat over-watch duties," the colonel added. "While manning the M-2 machine gun on the leading vehicle, Airman Chavis refused to abandon his post, even as he knew with each increasing moment his courageous actions would ultimately expose him to the sights of the enemy." 

For the sacrifices Airman Chavis made for his country, he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His burial was held Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Airman Chavis' dedication to defending and supporting freedom in the face of insurgent extremists is an example of a modern-day hero, whose efforts are looked upon with pride and respect, said Colonel Decknick. 

"Lee was a great American; a beacon for all us to emulate and an inspiration to remember," he said. "Just like the previous generations of great Americans that faced other enemies, we need to learn from heroes like Lee and fight rock solid against the enemy. 

"We join together for those still in the fight; that they may continue the mission until all come home safely," the colonel added. "We are in a fight for our nation's existence, and men like Lee provide the motivation to press on."