A friend of 1st Lt. Weston Lee, who himself will report to the Army this weekend, has joined with others to set up a scholarship fund in honor of the 25-year-old platoon leader from Bluffton, Georgia, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq last Saturday.
Lee "lived Army values through and through" and set the example for him, said 21-year-old Colin Marney, a fraternity brother of Lee's at the University of North Georgia. Marney graduated last week and this weekend will report to Fort Benning, Georgia, to pursue his own dream of becoming an armor officer.
Lee was "fully dedicated to the Army, fully dedicated to anything he did, just an all-around great guy," Marney said. He also was "one of the best shooters I ever met -- always at the range -- and the most physically fit."
Marney and other fraternity brothers at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity in the Georgia Delta Chapter at UNG have set a goal of raising $100,000 through the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform "in hopes of rewarding young men who live Weston's legacy of dedication and service."
More than $40,000 had been raised in the first day, said a spokesperson for GoFundMe. Any money in addition to the $100,000 would be used to help Lee's family with expenses.
Lee joined the Army in March 2015 and was assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He was on patrol as part of an advise-and-assist mission near Mosul in northwestern Iraq when the IED fatally wounded him.
Lee was "an extraordinary young man and officer. He was exactly the type of leader that our paratroopers deserve," said Col. Pat Work, commander of 2nd BCT, in a statement. "Our sincere condolences and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time."
Officials said that Lee's awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Parachutist Badge, and the Army Service Ribbon. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Lee, who deployed to Iraq in December, was one of more than 1,800 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team serving in Iraq to assist local forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
On Monday, Freddie Odom, the mayor of Bluffton, signed a resolution renaming the city's park as "Weston C. Lee Veterans Memorial Park."
Lee's death was the second American military fatality since the start of the Mosul operation against the Islamic State more than six months ago. In October, just days after the operation to retake Mosul was launched, Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, who was assigned to a SEAL unit, died of wounds sustained in a roadside bomb attack north of Mosul.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.