Third I.D. Soldier Laid to Rest

The family and friends of Specialist Dakotah Gooding paid their final respects Saturday morning as they laid the fallen soldier to rest in Springfield. One by one, those who knew him and his family, came to honor the 21 year old Third Infantry Division soldier.

"Even though he's a young boy, he's more of a man than most men I know," said his mother-in-law, Kathy McLendon.

Two years ago, the man they called Koty married Kathy McLendon's daughter, Angela. Last month, he left for Iraq.

"He told me, I'm coming back to get her," she said.

Koty didn't come home alive. He was killed last Sunday when the humvee he was riding in fell into a canal, killing him and two other soldiers. Angela Gooding's heart was shattered and Kathy couldn't do anything to ease the pain.

"As a mom, you're always there to protect them," she explained, "and there was nothing I could do. It's the worst thing I have ever been through. You feel hopeless."

"It's so hard, so hard," added Latisa McInnis, "I just hope I don't have to go through this."

McInnis' fiancee, Staff Sergeant L.B. Baker tried to save Koty's life. The Fort Stewart wives seem to band together during times like this. Latisa prays Baker's calls won't stop.

"He's coming home," she said. "That's what I know."

"It's hard to say," added McClendon, "but, they could be next."

While a wife grieves, her mother says picking up the pieces of a broken heart will be tough.

"She's young, but it's going to be hard," she said, "She's not going to find anyone like Koty."

At his funeral, the Army promoted Specialist Gooding to Sergeant. They also gave Angela Gooding an American flag and a Bronze Star that the Army awarded Sergeant Gooding for his service.

Reported by: Don Logana,