- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2005

BALTIMORE — The last time Army Spc. Toccara Renee Green was home in Rosedale, she told her brother, “Just don’t let them forget about me.” The conversation would be one of the last Garry Green Jr. would have with his younger sister.

Yesterday, family, friends, state and military officials did not forget Toccara Green. They celebrated the life of the 23-year-old, affectionately known as “Tee” or “Baby Girl Green.”

Spc. Green was killed in an ambush in Iraq on Aug. 14 when bombs were detonated near her unit during convoy operations in Asad.

She was a part of the Army’s 57th Transportation Company, 548th Corps Support Battalion in Fort Drum, N.Y.

As mourners filed into New Psalmist Baptist Church, a slide show of Spc. Green, the first Maryland woman killed in combat in Iraq, played on a big-screen television.

Floral arrangements in red, white and blue lined the floor in front of the open casket, which later was closed and covered with the U.S. flag.

Those in attendance were encouraged to celebrate, but sadness nonetheless overcame many. A member of the Army honor guard, who was standing at the coffin, began to cry; her tears were wiped away by a Baltimore police officer.

The mood would change as Victory Ministries International Praise and Worship Team led the people who packed the church in a some high-energy musical selections. The Rev. Troy Smith presided over the service.

Others who attended were U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

“She gave her blood, sweat, tears and life,” Mr. Cummings, Baltimore Democrat, said. “We gather here not because Toccara died, but because she lived.

“Though many may disagree with the war … she was pursuing her dream.”

Mr. O’Malley said, “War is real. While it may happen far away, it can hit close to home.” He referred to Spc. Green as “the pride of our city.”

Army Spc. Nicole Coleman read a poem she wrote, and shared some memories of her friend, whom she first met in basic training. She said they were delighted when they were assigned to the same unit.

“Toccara was not just a friend,” Spc. Coleman said. “She was the sister I never had.

“You will be forever missed and loved,” said Spc. Coleman looking to Spc. Green’s closed casket. “I’ll see you when I get there; save a seat for me.”

Yvonne Green said her daughter was three months from finishing her second tour of duty when she was killed. Her last trip home was in early August; she returned to Iraq on Aug. 8. She had served two years and seven months in the Army.

Her brother is a Marine staff sergeant stationed at Norfolk and her father, Garry Green Sr., is a Baltimore police detective.

Spc. Green will be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery.

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