Sgt. Jeffrey Alan Rollins was remembered Friday afternoon as an athletic young man who had high goals and as a hero who died in the service of his country during wartime.
Rollins, 23, died in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 14, 1991, when the truck in which he was riding went off the road and rolled. He was a supply sergeant with the 307th Medical Battalion, 82nd Airborne, and was an avid parachute jumper.An overflow crowd attended services in the West Bountiful 8th Ward Chapel.
Rollins had lived in West Bountiful before joining the Army in 1985. Robert and Illeene Rollins, his parents, live in Monroe, Sevier County. His wife, Sheila, and four children live in Fort Bragg, N.C.
Bishop Lowell Hadley noted that the service is a time when Rollins' friends and relatives should lean on Jesus Christ and find understanding and comfort through prayer.
"Somehow I feel you'll be able to hear it," said Rollins' friend Cory Platt, who read a letter he wrote to the young man after the accident.
"You were always an understanding person. I remember when we played basketball, you'd pass me the ball even though you knew I couldn't make it into the hoop." He noted that even as a child, Rollins liked the idea of jumping out of airplanes. "You did it," Platt said.
Also, he remembered "how proudly you wore" the Army uniform when he came to visit after joining the service. "Jeff, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for serving our country and helping to maintain our freedom . . . You're a good friend, and you'll always be in my heart, and you'll always be in the hearts of those you've served."
Platt concluded, "Jeff gave his todays for our tomorrows."
The ward chapel was filled with approximately 250 relatives, friends and people who wished them well. There were so many that the audience, seated on folding chairs, extended into the adjacent recreation hall. Uniformed servicemen and women were scattered through the crowd.
Richard L. Judd, Rollins' former bishop, said he had written a letter to the young man, too. "I remember coaching you, Jeff, (in basketball) when all things were possible in your mind."
Rollins had dreams of a career as a professional basketball player, than as a sports announcer. He kept looking for "ways to excel and be great, and be a hero. In fact, Jeff is a hero," he said.
Everyone has a purpose in life, he said. "We can be assured that Jeff was able to complete his mission here," and now he has other things to do.
"When Jeff went into the Army, when he joined, I hated to see him go," said a friend, Dave Kremer. "But I knew that for Jeff that was the right thing."
Robert Barnes read a tribute from a friend who was also a member of the All-American Parachute Club. Then Byron Crosby said during the benediction, "We're thankful for . . . all of the Jeff Rollins" who are serving their country far from home.
Pallbearers were members of the 96th Army Reserve Command, based at Fort Douglas. As the funeral cortege passed West Bountiful Elementary School, scores of young students lined the highway, many carrying flags and others with their hands over their hearts.
Graveside services were to be held Saturday in Milford, Beaver County.