For Soldier, Military was ‘His Mindset’
Cole Larsen, killed in Iraq, was the latest in a long family tradition of fighting at wartime.
Brandon Lowrey Signal Staff Writer
The mother of a local soldier killed in Iraq remembered her 19-year-old son’s devilish smile, and how when he visited home for the last time about a month ago, he had grown into a confident man.
“He came out of the womb with camos on,” Christie Larsen said Monday of her son, Pfc. Cole Larsen. “He played with G.I. Joes (when he was a child), and in the sixth or seventh grade, he went to the recruitment office. ... It’s something he always wanted to do.”
Cole Larsen, a 2002 Canyon High School graduate, died last week after the Humvee he was on collided with a civilian car and flipped over near Fallujah, his mother said. The teen was manning a gun turret on top of the vehicle.
During his last two-week visit, Christie Larsen said she asked her son if he regretted joining after seeing what he had seen.
“He said he liked it,” she said. “It was in his blood. It was his mindset, it was just him.”
Larsen said her son spent a lot of time with his father outdoors, hunting and practicing at shooting ranges. During his last visit home, he escorted his sister, senior Haley Larsen, to the Canyon High School homecoming dance.
At home, Cole Larsen was a mischievous and popular prankster who kept his friends and family on their toes. In Iraq, Larsen was in the 272nd Military Police Company assisting the police force of the country’s freshly formed Democratic government.
The Army had not released any information on the soldier’s death Monday. However, on Sunday, word spread among his friends, who visited his family’s house that night to cope with their loss.
“It was nice, just to sit here in the background and just listen to them exchange stories,” Christie Larsen said. “It was therapy for them, too, just to talk about it.”
Cole Larsen enlisted in the Army early, when he was 17, which required his parents’ authorization. He left for boot camp in July, just after he graduated, his mother said, and was stationed in Missouri and in Germany before he left for Iraq.
Cole Larsen’s father, Ballard, said the family has a tradition of military service. Ballard Larsen was a soldier in the Navy, and was named after his uncle, who had fought in World War II.
“Our family’s been fighting and dying for this country since the Revolutionary War,” he said.
Cole Larsen’s family isn’t certain when his funeral services will be; his body has not been returned home.
But for now, Ballard Larsen said he will hang his son’s flag next to his uncle’s.
“He was doing what he wanted to do. It’s just like a crapshoot. You never know when you’re born ... where your country’s going to be in 18 years,” he said. “This time it happened to be war, so he did what he had to do.”
Christie Larsen expressed pride: “Our son’s our hero.”