Family, friends and community honor deceased Guard

Monday, September 17, 2012
Members of his Family and community leaders unveil the sign to dedicate a port of Highway 21 in Iron County to Staff Sgt. Norman Inman.

IRONTON, Mo. -- Staff Sgt. Norman Inman is known throughout the 1140th Engineer Battalion as a tough, strong and reliable Soldier.

"He was one of the hardest working Soldiers I've ever known," said retired Sgt. 1st Class John Kindlestarger, who deployed with Inman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005.

"If there was anyone I would bet my life on, it was Norm," said retired Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Harris, who was Inman's platoon sergeant while deployed.

He is also known for his generosity, courage and laugh.

"He was the only guy I knew who could tell jokes nonstop and not repeat himself," said Kindlestarger, who used to travel to Fort Leonard Wood with Inman weekly to instruct an engineer sapper school for two years.

Inman's sudden death in January of this year was a shock to his Family, friends and fellow Guardsmen, and to the community that he had helped shape and change.

To honor his service and dedication to the military and the community, a portion of Highway 21 in Iron County from the intersection of Highway 221 south to the intersection of Highway 72 was named Staff Sergeant Norman J. Inman Memorial Highway.

"He would be so humbled," said his wife Connie. "Probably for the first time in his life he wouldn't have something to say."

Hundreds of Family, friends and community leaders gathered to remember his service and his impact on the community at an unveiling ceremony.

Inman served twenty years with the military, two years with the U.S. Army Reserves and 18 years with the Missouri National Guard. He deployed with Co A, 1140th Engineer Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005. He served on countless state emergency duties and on humanitarian missions to Central America. He received a Humanitarian Service Medal for his service during Hurricane Katrina relief operations in 2005, right before he retired.

"When you saw him you knew he was dedicated to the Guard and his Family," said retired Spc. Matthew Reed, who is currently striving to continue a tradition Inman started three years ago.

Inman started a reunion for any and every Veteran and Soldiers from the Farmington and Fredericktown areas, where the unit he served in is from.

"It didn't matter how long ago you served, how many times that unit had been changed, or where you ended up now, he just wanted everyone to visit at least once a year," said Reed. "It isn't going to be the same without him."

His service and dedication extended into the community he was born and raised in.

He was a graduate of Arcardia Valley High School, were he later helped coach intramural sports, was a member of the St. Paul Lutheran Church, the Arcadia Valley Elks Lodge, the Ironton VFW Post, the Leadwood Masonic Lodge and was active in Babe Ruth baseball, Little Dribblers and the Boy Scouts of America.

He touched the lives of hundreds of people, and for Justin and his brother Josh and Jonathan, having the highway dedication meant a lot.

"It's a privilege to have this done for dad," said Justin.

For many the sign will be a reminder and inspiration.

While deployed, Lt. Col. Ed Gargas can remember visiting the troops and always receiving a warm welcome from Inman.

"Anything I ever needed he made sure I got, and it wasn't just because of his respect for the rank but because he always put others first and strived to help anyone in any way he could," said Gargas, who is now commander of the 1140th Engineer Battalion. "I challenge myself every day and I challenge every one of my 700 Soldiers who serve in the 1140th to emulate him and we can all be a little bit better."

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