More than 1,200 packed into the LaSells Stewart Center to honor the life of Pfc. Cody James Patterson.
Patterson was a U.S. Army Ranger who sacrificed himself on Oct. 6 to save others during an attack overseas, according to an insert in the program passed out before the memorial service.
A specialist in the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Patterson was described as a man with an animated personality, great heart and outstanding sense of humor.
Of the many descriptions outlined by speakers, some included “animated,” “charismatic” and “loving.”
The service began with 75th Ranger Regiment Chaplain Brian Koyn who described how each present speaker would help tell the entire story of Patterson’s life.
“Each has a different part of the whole,” Koyn said.
Following the introductions, Koyn welcomed Randall Patterson, Cody Patterson’s father, to speak about his son.
“Cody had a big heart,” Randall Patterson said.
During the first few minutes, Randall Patterson talked about fate and destiny. He described how he wanted to be a truck driver as a child, and believed Cody Patterson had a similar experience when he was younger.
“It was always something Army,” he said. “The more Cody grew up, the more I could tell the direction he was going. And there was no changing that.”
Randall Patterson said he especially noticed his son’s interest in the military when movies such as “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down” were released.
“(‘Black Hawk Down’) was his favorite movie,” Randall Patterson said. “I think that’s the day I realized exactly what he was going to be.”
Cody Patterson’s best friend for 20 years, Tyler Lewis, said he struggled to think of a childhood memory without Cody.
“Going forward, I realize how truly lucky I was to have had that,” Lewis said.
Lewis described Cody Patterson’s constant determination to succeed.
“Cody was never happy with good enough or close enough,” Lewis said. “He knew that serving his country was what he needed to do, what he was meant to do.”
When thinking of what to wear during the service, Lewis decided to visit Foot Locker last minute and purchase a bright red pair of sneakers in honor of the occasion.
“He loved his sneakers,” Lewis said. “I never understood it, but I think he had more pairs than I could count.”
Cody Patterson’s sister, Taylor Patterson, recalled memories of Cody Patterson the first time he moved out of the house. When she was still trying to adjust, Cody Patterson shared with her some advice that helped her through the process, and exemplified the person he was.
“‘Keep moving forward, Taylor,’” her brother told her. “‘You weren’t built to go in reverse.’”
Several other family members and friends spoke in honor of Cody Patterson before the ceremony came to a close.
Brig. Gen. Erik Kurilla wanted to attend the ceremony, but could not due to four failed plane landing attempts in the fog. Col. Gregory Anderson spoke on Kurilla’s behalf as the ceremony drew to a close.
With the help of rangers from the 3rd Battalion, Anderson then presented folded flags to the Patterson family.
The service concluded when six rangers marched the casket out of the auditorium. Multiple guests remained to further discuss the memories of a man who, with fearless resolution, gave his life for everything he believed in. Friends and fellow former students who knew Cody Patterson will also hold a memorial gathering at Philomath High School on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Higher education reporter