Updated 06/26/2012 06:25 AM
Local soldier killed while serving overseas
Local veterans are remembering a soldier from Monroe who died Friday while serving overseas. YNN's John Wagner spoke with them about the loss.
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MONROE, N.Y. -- Flags lowered to half mast as Orange County veterans learned that one of their own, Major Paul Voelke of Monroe, passed away in Afghanistan.
"It's something he wanted to do for this country and his family to keep us free," said George Smith, Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
A 1998 West Point graduate, Voelke spent 14 years in the Army, deploying twice to Iraq, he died of non-combat related injuries while serving his second term in Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.
"Did his job every time he was asked to do it, he obviously didn't try to dodge it and if he's been over there four times and fourteen years, he's paid his dues and it's sad but he should be remembered as someone who wasn't afraid to make the ultimate sacrifice," said Victor Porro, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran.
The 36-year-old Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient is survived by his wife and two kids who live near his home base, Fort Stewart in Georgia. His parents reside in Monroe.
“He's gone back for more and he's a true patriot, and we need more people like him," said John Roberts, Iraq Veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
"I think they should remember him as a hero as someone who did his duty, he did what he had to do for his country, his family, he did what he believed in," said Smith.
Statewide, Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed all flags on government buildings to be flown at half-staff Wednesday in his honor.