The Sept. 5 death of Army Pvt. Jordan P. Thibeault should be "heralded" by everyone, the family said in a statement this week.
"Mankind today is faced with terrible calamities," the family said. "Only a select few are willing to forgo comforts of home, indeed the very promise of a brighter future, to place themselves between the forces of hate and oppression and the human spirit yearning for peace and safety."
Thibeault died from injuries he sustained during a noncombat incident, which is still under investigation. He was the 48th person with Utah ties to die while serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to Deseret News records.
Thibeault lived in South Jordan while being home-schooled, and he also attended Benjamin Franklin Academy before joining the Army. After four years of service, he recently enlisted for another six years. At the time of his death Thibeault was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. During his first tour he received a commendation for his efforts as an M-88 tank recovery vehicle driver and Bradley tank mechanic.
Thibeault was born in Maine, loved airplanes, mathematics, computers and military history, according to information from the 96th Regional Readiness Command in Salt Lake City.
His family said Thibeault served to protect mankind and that he followed his "inner core of beliefs" to ensure that Iraqis have a chance to achieve peace and prosperity.
"His passing should give hope to all that there are still those among us who are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to keep mankind safe and free," family members said in their statement. "We honor all men and women in uniform and will continue to pray for each and every one of them as well as their families."
There will be a public viewing Sept. 14 at Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary and a funeral service with full military honors the following day at the River Ridge Stake 2nd LDS Ward in South Jordan. His parents, John and Celeste Thibeault, live in the western Salt Lake County suburb, and Thibeault is also survived by his sister, Denise, a student at Brigham Young University. He will be buried at the South Jordan City Cemetery.The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, people make donations to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Perpetual Education Fund or the ThanksUSA Military Scholarship Program. The family has also asked that there be no media presence during funeral services.