U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Thomas R. MacPherson, killed in combat in Afghanistan, was remembered at a funeral service Friday as a warrior who exhibited "daunting courage in battle" and a loving husband and father.
MacPherson, a 26-year-old Los Alamitos High School graduate, was killed Oct. 12. He died from small arms fire during a patrol in Afghanistan's Andar District, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
His wife Claudia, with the couple's 17-month-old son Brayden Thomas in her arms, spoke at the service at Cottonwood Church in Los Alamitos. MacPherson met Claudia in 2004 at the Los Alamitos High School prom.
"I'm just so grateful for the little piece of Tommy that was left with me," she said.
Claudia, 24, shared a letter that she wrote to her husband that began with her memories of a time when a then-17-year-old MacPherson visited her parents' house "wearing shorts, t-shirt and white Vans so torn that they were almost see-through."
"You're a man with many titles... but to me you will always be my sweet Tommy," Claudia, whose birthday was Thursday, read from the letter. "There are so many memories I will always have of our time together. I remember the day we welcomed our baby boy into our lives, and just being so grateful you were the man there beside me."
Other family members described his exemplary character.
"I can't say enough about the man he was," said cousin Zach Tanner. "His story should be one of motivation and hope, that one day some of us should achieve that amount of character."
Servicemembers who spoke at the funeral said MacPherson displayed "daunting courage in battle."
MacPherson was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan. He also served in Iraq.
MacPherson enlisted in the Army in 2007 and served as a mortarman and team leader. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
MacPherson is the son of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Troy MacPherson.
"He has done a lifetime of work in a short time," said LA County Sheriff Lee Baca. "His lifetime of leadership describes his purpose. Not everyone can do what he did."
A slideshow of MacPherson was presented at the service. The slideshow included images of MacPherson as a baby and progressed through his childhood, school years and time in the military.