Friends, family say farewell to dead Vegas soldier

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Staff Sgt. Cameron Bryan Sarno didn't die taking a ridge. The 43-year-old Army Reserve soldier from Las Vegas didn't die in a tank battle or dogfight.

He died fixing a flat tire on his large transport truck in Kuwait City last week, a reminder that everyone remains in harm's way in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's not as glamorous, but it's just as important," Col. Jon Miller, Sarno's commanding officer, said Sunday morning after a memorial service at the Armed Forces Reserve Center on Nellis Air Force Base.

"Either way, you do your duty. It's all part of the bigger effort."

Miller was one about 200 people who attended the hour-long tribute, which was thick with tears and anecdotes about the native Hawaiian who served his country and surfed big waves on the North Shore without fear.

Sarno, a member of the 257th Transportation Company, was the first soldier from Las Vegas to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was the fourth Nevadan killed since the war in Iraq began March 20.

The military said Sarno died Monday when another heavy truck slammed into him. The 257th -- nicknamed "Rollin' Thunder" -- is comprised of soldiers who transport tanks and other heavy vehicles.

Sarno and 300 other soldiers from the Las Vegas unit were called up in February. Sarno, known as "Boodee," had told family members he hoped to return home by Christmas and start working again as a concrete-mixer truck driver for Silver State Materials Corp.

His cousin said Sarno's ashes will be scattered at sea, the one place the reservist loved. Brian Sarno, 30, said he and others intend to paddle out into the water on their surfboards and scatter the ashes.

Sarno said he wasn't angry about his cousin's death, and he still supported Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Being angry is not going to help anybody," he said.

The deaths associated with the Iraqi conflict weren't lost on the civilians and soldiers standing in the room in front of Cameron Sarno's coffin that was draped with an American flag.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who spoke at the service, said he knew his decision earlier this year to send troops to Iraq would put soldiers at risk. He's already attended three funerals this year, including Sarno's.

Two Marines, 1st Lt. Fred Pokorney of Tonopah and Lance Cpl. Donald "John" Cline of Sparks, were killed in action March 23 near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Army Capt. Josh Byers, 29, who graduated from Reed High School in Sparks, was killed July 23 when his convoy was ambushed near Ramadi.

Ensign said it's not easy to shake off the deaths.

"You always have regrets when you come to these things," Ensign said. "It's real pain, real death."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment