GONAIVES, Haiti — In an open-sided Army tent on a dusty makeshift military base, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Cardott was eulogized Friday as a soldier who epitomized the Special Forces.
Cardott, 36, of Fayetteville, N.C., who died Thursday, was the first American soldier killed since the U.S.-led multinational force landed in September to oust Haiti's military dictatorship and help restore democracy.
Cardott was shot in a confrontation with the passenger of a truck that ran a tollbooth near this coastal town 60 miles north of the capital. A Haitian was also killed in the incident.
"In the past 24 hours, we lost a buddy. A wife lost a husband, and two children lost a father," said Maj. Mark O'Neill, Cardott's company commander. The slain soldier had been assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group in Ft. Bragg, N.C.
"Did he die in vain? He did not. Was the cause great? You're damned right it was," O'Neill said.
The brief service was attended by about 100 Special Forces troops, at least four generals and Staff Sgt. Tommy Davis, who was injured in Thursday's shooting.
Davis, 33, of Hialeah, Fla., was to return home today. Cardott's body was flown back to the United States on Friday.
A military spokeswoman did not know the identities of the Haitians involved in Thursday's incident. But Gerarde Elysse, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, said the slain man was former Haitian army Maj. Aurel Frederic, a shipowner on his way to Gonaives for the arrival of one of his cargo vessels.
Elysse identified the driver as Jules Cesar, former bodyguard of Roger Lafontant, who as interior and defense minister under dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier had headed the infamous Tontons Macoutes militia. Lafontant was killed in September, 1991.