Funerals Held Saturday for Fallen Soldiers

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Laid to rest Saturday was 2nd Lt. David Edward Rylander, 23, of Stow, who was killed on May 2, when the army vehicle he was traveling in was hit by an IED in the Logar Province of Afghanistan.

Family and friends honored the West Point graduate's life at his funeral in Akron Saturday morning. Rylander was then buried at a cemetery in Rittman.

Northeast Ohio said goodbye to another hero as well.

A memorial service for a fallen soldier with ties to Northeast Ohio was held Saturday. Honor Guard present as the casket of Army PFC Michael Metcalf is led into The Gateway Church in Ashtabula. 

Private Metcalf was a member of the elite 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Brigadier General John Baker said Private Metcalf was part of a quick response team on the way to assist other casualties when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. 

"He was one of the All American heroes facing danger shoulder to shoulder with his fellow paratroopers in Afghanistan. Michael was dependable.  And, everyone in his unit agreed he set the example for all to follow," Brigadier General Baker said.

Reverend Robert Leonard said while Private Metcalf died at the hands of evil and hatred, he was a young man with great compassion for people. "Michael stood out heads above others. Not just in stature but in character and integrity."

Private Metcalf lived in Florida, but spent much time with his father's family in Ashtabula.  His Aunt Patricia Metcalf said many knew him as "Cowboy Mike,"  because he wanted to be a professional bull rider.  However, he made a detour in his life and joined The Army. She recalled him as a kind man who loved life. 

"We've heard many stories how he put his whole self into becoming the best soldier he could.  But, I think we can all learn from how Michael lived his whole life short as it was.  We must all live brave, we must all live kind and we must live this life to the fullest with plenty of laughter because there are no guarantees of tomorrow," Patricia Metcalf said. 

Six doves symbolizing a quality of Private Metcalf's character--hope, joy, gentleness, fidelity, love and peace--were released in his name.  He was awarded The Gold Star, The Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge for his service and sacrifice in Operation Enduring Freedom.   

PFC Michael Metcalf is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday.

"I know I will see him again in heaven and there will be a cowboy angel waiting for me at the gates," Patricia Metcalf added.

Loved ones gathered Saturday to pay their respects to two local soldiers who died in the line of duty.

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