An arm tattooed "John 15:13" pictured with a Marine clutching a tattered American flag, provides a glimpse into Brian Langeliers' character.
The Bible verse, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" is a favorite of the 20-year-old U.S. Marine Lance Corporal.
Laying down his life is just what the 2004 Payson High School graduate is prepared to do Sept. 18 when he travels to Iraq as a member of the 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines peacekeeping force. Langeliers anticipates his unit will probably be stationed in the infamous Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad.
Langeliers has his concerns about fighting in Iraq, but said he is ready to do his duty.
"It will be hairy, but going there is why I joined the Marine Corps," he said.
Langeliers spent a few days this past week visiting friends and family in Payson before departing to San Diego where he will undergo about a month of escape and evasion training.
Then it's on to a seven-month deployment in Iraq.
Being in combat will be nothing new for the former Longhorn track and field star.
In 2005, he served a seven-month tour of duty in war-torn Afghanistan.
"We were in several firefights, and being shot at changes the way you look at life. It can end for you at any time," he said. "I think it kind of makes you stronger."
When Langeliers returns from Iraq, he plans to enroll in the elite Marines sniper school.
"That is a challenge I want to take in and it's the best job in the Marine Corps," he said.
After his tour of duty is up in June 2008, Langeliers will take the education money he'll receive for serving in the military and use it to attend college, possibly Arizona State University.
Langeliers is well-known in the Rim Country, having lived here his entire life. His father, Norm, is a retired teacher and his mother, Sally, teaches at Payson Elementary School.
Last winter, following Brian Langeliers' return from Afghanistan, he was presented with a handmade quilt made by kindergarten students in Mary Lou Runzo's two classes.
The quilt was to be delivered to him overseas, but that turned impossible because he was serving in a war zone.
The students kept the quilt and presented to him Feb. 10 at PES.
"I knew long before about the quilt," he said. "When I had access to the Internet, I would read the Payson Roundup. There was a story in there about it."
For Langeliers, the kindergartners' class project turned out to be a huge morale booster.
"It meant so much to me to know they did that. I remember thinking, ‘This is so cool'," Langeliers said.
Just minutes after the students presented the quilt to Langeliers, the U.S. Marine found himself surrounded by a swarm of excited young admirers.
Later, as he watched teachers line up the young students and march them away to classrooms, he paused a few seconds to recall his days at the elementary school.
"I was sent to the principal's office a lot," he said. "I guess I must have caused some trouble, but I liked going to school."
After leaving PES and moving on to Rim Country Middle and Payson High schools, Langeliers built a reputation as a standout track and field and cross country runner.
His exploits included running legs on 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams that still hold school records.
A way to help
With Langeliers' sights set on someday becoming a U.S. Marine sniper, he is hoping his many Rim Country friends pitch in to help out the elite squad by contributing to an organization that provides special equipment for snipers.
"Being such a small unit, snipers aren't always given the adequate budget to afford the gear needed," he said.
Langeliers has seen firsthand the organization "Snipers Online" purchase much-needed hardware for snipers.
"They bought new spotting scopes, range finders and GPS units," he said. "The best thing is there is no middle man, all the money goes to purchase equipment."
For more information, log on to: http://www.snipersonline.org or mail donations to Snipers Online, 101 South Military Ave. Ste P #211, Green Bay, WI 54303.
Request donations go to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment Scout Sniper Pit.
-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.