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Fallen soldier’s mother committed to annual wreath laying

 Home Boone veterans honored on ‘Wreaths Across America Day’ Photo by Jacob Messer  Barbara Ulbrich and Major James Reese of the West Virginia Army National Guard get the wreath for Scotty Ulbrich's grave.

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Boone veterans honored on ‘Wreaths Across America Day’
Photo by Jacob Messer
Barbara Ulbrich and Major James Reese of the West Virginia Army National Guard get the wreath for Scotty Ulbrich’s grave.

By Jacob Messer

For the Coal Valley News

LOW GAP, W.Va. – Eight years ago, James Reese traveled to Family Memorial Gardens here to attend the funeral of SPC Scotty Ulbrich.

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, Reese returned to the same cemetery in this tiny community to honor Ulbrich and other Boone County veterans.

Barbara Ulbrich chose Reese to lay a wreath on her son’s grave Saturday, which marked National Wreaths across America Day.

“This is my first time back since the funeral,” said Reese, who now is a major with the West Virginia Army National Guard. “I’m honored she invited me to help. It isn’t something I will ever forget.”

Reese was Ulbrich’s platoon leader at Fort Carson in Colorado. They immediately hit it off because both were West Virginia natives, with Reese hailing from Buckhannon in Upshur County and Ulbrich hailing from Manila in Boone County.

“I knew him very well,” Reese said of Ulbrich, a Scott High School graduate who was only one semester short of graduating from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice when he enlisted in the Army in January 2004. “I knew him very well. I trained him and prepared him before he went to Iraq.”

Ulbrich and two other soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) on June 5, 2005 in Iraq, where he was a 23-year-old private first class and calvary scout stationed about 35 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Reese accompanied Ulbrich’s body back to Boone County and protected it before the funeral.

“As soon as I found out he had died, I volunteered for that mission,” Reese said. “I felt it was something I needed to do.”

The ceremony at Family Memorial Gardens was the first of its kind in Boone County, and Barbara Ulbrich plans to make it an annual event…

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“We need donations to purchase more wreaths and honor more soldiers each year,” she said.

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