Thousands attend funeral for NC soldier who was an ‘extraordinary young lady’

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) —Hundreds gathered at a Fayetteville church on Sunday to say goodbye to a fallen soldier.

Laurin Gates, 20, died during a training exercise at Fort Hood on June 3 when a vehicle she was in with other soldiers was swept away by floodwaters.

On Sunday, Apostle William Ford said because Gates confessed and believed in God, the occasion on Sunday afternoon was a celebration of life.

More coverage: Parents of NC soldier killed in Fort Hood flooding say she was an ‘angel’

More than 2,000 people packed the pews at Fayetteville’s Kingdom Impact Global Ministries to honor Eddy Rae Laurin Gates.

Ford said “We know that she was an extraordinary young lady and she did extraordinary things”.

Gates was born in Greenville South Carolina. She graduated from Triton High School in 2013 and was very active in the school’s ROTC program.

Major Steve Jones was her instructor. Jones shared a letter written by Gates at Sunday’s service.

More coverage: Vigil held in Dunn for soldier who died in Fort Hood incident

The letter said “Even though I thought all them speeches were you running your big mouth, I understand you now. I understand you were training me for the real world.”

That passion for ROTC led gates to join the Army in December of last year. But on June 3, Gates was one of nine soldiers killed in high flood waters, after their military vehicle overturned during a training exercise.

Kimberly Docier, a cousin of Gates called said “it’s like a dream that you hope to wake up from, but its reality.”

Gates was also a youth leader at Kingdom Impact. Sunday’s service included many tributes and words to comfort Gates’ family.

A mime tribute by Jamel Clayton and Justin Hayes brought many to tears.

Crystal Patterson said “to know Laurin was to love Laurin.”

Gates will be buried on Monday in Charleston, South Carolina.

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