LEE, Maine -- A Maine soldier who was laid to rest yesterday will be remembered for his quiet dedication and the sense of humor he kept even after suffering a severe head injury when a suicide bomber attacked his barracks earlier in the year.
Army Sergeant Joel A. House, 22, died June 23 from wounds sustained in a roadside bomb attack in Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. Three other soldiers from the First Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, were killed in the attack.
Joined by all four members of Maine's congressional delegation, Governor John Baldacci called it "a great tragedy that Maine has lost another beloved and talented son."
"We are grateful that he touched so many lives, and comforted to know that men and women like Joel walk amongst us and answer the call to service," Baldacci told mourners gathered at Lee Academy.
House graduated from the academy in 2003.
Also speaking at the funeral were House's brother, Luke, and father, Paul, along with US Representative Michael Michaud and a sergeant from House's unit.
House, who was on his second tour in Iraq, suffered head wounds from the suicide bomb attack in March. After that attack, he spent time with his parents and brother and sister in Florida before returning to Iraq in April.
House, who enlisted right out of school, was described as a quiet and humble man with a knack for making people laugh with one-liners. He was devoted to his family and his faith, and he enjoyed playing guitar, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities.
He managed to keep his sense of humor even after the barracks bombing that claimed the life of his best friend, his family said. He snapped a photo of his sleeping bag in the rubble and posted it on MySpace.com with the caption, "My sleeping bag got dirty."
House came from a family with a long tradition of military service. His great-great-grandfather, Major Charles James House, served in the Civil War.
After his military service, Joel House hoped to return to the United States to help his father, a registered Maine guide, and go to school to become a game warden, his mother said.