Staff Sgt. Alexander “Alex” Conrad was their middle child, the one who played T-ball as a little boy, football in high school and lived through two Army deployments in Afghanistan.
Images on the church monitors transitioned from one family memory to another, from one moment in Conrad’s life to another.
In one photo, Conrad stood with his mother, father, brother and sister posed in front of a blue-marbled backdrop for a family portrait. In another, he gripped a T-ball bat, smiling ear to ear, as a toddler.
His parents did not speak at their son’s funeral, nor did his siblings. They sat quietly during the memorial, listening to the Catholic priest remember their loved one.
Conrad was killed by a mortar blast on June 8 in Somalia during an attack by al-Shabaab, a terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Family, friends and strangers who wanted to honor the soldier gathered at the public funeral service Saturday at St. Juan Diego Church in Chandler.
Conrad, a human intelligence officer enlisted in the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group, stood tall in one photo, among his comrades, wearing combat camouflage.
A group of those comrades — Joe Owens, Lamar Allen, Oscar Casas, Donovan Cox, Logan Baxter and Dominick Ruthman — gently pulled the wooden casket, covered by an American flag, out of the white hearse, Saturday morning.
The men, dressed in their military best — black coats, navy slacks, patent leather dress shoes and maroon berets — escorted Conrad into the church.
They entered the church and slowly lifted the flag off the casket, methodically folding it before they handed it to Rev. Dan McBride.