LIMA -- Staff Sgt. Aaron Todd Reese was laid to rest Monday. But before that final stop, Reese was honored Monday for giving the ultimate sacrifice to his country, and his life was celebrated by all who gathered to pay their final respects to Reese who died in Iraq earlier this month. Reese was eulogized as a soldier, father and husband who cared a great deal for his family just as he did for his country. His uncle, John Shafer, spoke of a family tradition. "It was a love of family, God and country," Shafer said. "Todd lived that way." Shafer started the eulogy by referencing Time Magazine's "Person of the Year: the American soldier." "Todd, we bring you home as a hero," Shafer said as his voice cracked. Reese, 31, died Dec. 10 in the Tigris River in Iraq after falling from a boat while on patrol. A fellow soldier, Spc. Todd Bates, jumped in to try to rescue Reese. Bates, of Bellaire, went under water and his body has not been found. He is presumed dead. Reese, a 1990 graduate of Elida High School, was assigned to the 135th Military Police Company, 18th Military Police Brigade. Reese was the first Ohio Army National Guard soldier to die as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Several hundred people, including family, friends and soldiers packed into Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home on Cable Road. A patriotic theme dominated the room with red, white and blue bouquets made up or roses, carnations and mums. Reese lay in his flag-draped gray military casket and dressed in his "Class A" uniform with numerous medals pinned to his chest. A photo collage was nearby showcasing his life, beginning at birth. A crush of soldiers filled the funeral home, some dressed in "Class A" uniform and others in camouflage. Those in camouflage just returned from Iraq last week. Three songs, "Wind beneath my wings," "I believe" and "Let there be peace" were played on the piano during the funeral. Reese's family was presented with the Bronze Star for service above and beyond the call of duty in a combat zone. They also were presented with the Ohio Distinguished Service Medal for service to the Ohio National Guard. Shafer described several of his fondest memories of Reese that included a young boy with fiery red hair and an illuminating smile that everyone always remembered. Before Reese left for Iraq earlier this year, Shafer and his wife spoke to Reese about his deployment. "We were thoroughly impressed with his focus," Shafer said. "He REESE/A5 REESE/from A1 was not concerned for himself, he was concerned for his family." In 31 years, Reese's life was full of accomplishments from military honors to the love he had for his wife, Emilia, and their two children, Anthony and Nicole, Shafer said. "He will continue to live through all of us for eternity," Shafer said. Reese's father, Ed Reese, also spoke of the military tradition in the family. "What you see in our family is a lot of red, white and blue. We fly our flag proudly," he said. Ed Reese thanked the various people in his son's life, including Todd Reese's widow and mother, before saying his son always would be remembered. "Son, may you now rest in peace," Ed Reese said. Another uncle, Michael Reese, referred to Todd Reese as a servant in every aspect of his life from his duties in the military to his friends and family. "He served his country well. We're extremely proud of his contribution," Michael Reese said. "Todd will be greatly missed but will be remembered fondly by his family, friends and all the people he touched." U.S. Army Chaplain Kenneth Kirk asked the young children in the room to step forward and describe two leaves, as an analogy to life. Kirk later used the leaves to explain Reese's death. "Now I have a question. Which one is happier?" Kirk asked. "This one," several of the children said, pointing to a brown, dead leaf. Referred to the leaf, Kirk said it was happier and in a better place, just like Reese has traveled to. "He's with God," Kirk said. Kirk explained that people's lives were similar to leaves. People age as they get older, just as leaves turn from green to brown, he said. As the chaplain said that, one child said, "Uncle Todd went to be with the lord." "That's exactly right," Kirk said. Kirk said it was sad to say goodbye to people when they die, but everyone should be assured that Reese was in a better place. Following the services, the funeral procession of about 100 vehicles made its way down Allentown Road to the Allentown Cemetery. Reese was given a 21-gun salute and his family was presented with the American flag that had draped his casket.