Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Celebration, and Mourning; Pfc. Tavarus Setzler Was Taken Because He Was Ready, Elder Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Celebration, and Mourning; Pfc. Tavarus Setzler Was Taken Because He Was Ready, Elder Says

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL PINKHAM

As Army pallbearers carried the flag-draped casket bearing slain Pfc. Tavarus Setzler from a Jacksonville church Saturday, the choir broke into a boisterous rendition of the gospel classic I'll Fly Away.

It was a fitting send-off for a war hero eulogized during a celebratory "home-going" service as someone who loved his family, his country and, above all, his God.

"If we focus on who to blame for the war, we will never get to see the bravery of Tavarus," elder Bruce E. Cohen Sr. told those at the packed Greater Hope First Born Church. "He knew the danger before he enlisted and yet he enlisted. ... He answered the call."

Setzler, a 23-year-old Lee High School graduate, was killed Oct. 2 by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq, according to the Pentagon. He was a combat engineer with the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas, and had been in Iraq since June. He was engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend, Brittnie Jones, in November.

His memorial service was at times poignant and joyous as friends and family prayed, sang and laughed along with slides from the life of the young man they knew as "Nuk-Nuk." ROTC students who attended Lee with him were there, along with military representatives, other mothers who've lost children in battle, and motorcycle riders from the Patriot Guard and Buffalo Soldiers.

At one point, his mother, Mary Setzler, danced wildly across the front of the church, pointing heavenward as the choir sang. She was surrounded by a group of women who held hands and formed a circle around her as shouts of "Hallelujah" and "Thank you, Jesus" punctuated the air.

Later, the grieving mother hugged Brig. Gen. Donald Bradshaw of the Army Medical Corps as he presented her with a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Good Conduct Medal on her son's behalf.

The slide presentation included the reading of a tribute from Jones, who began dating Setzler in 2003. …

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