Local News

Fort Bragg Paratrooper Killed in Afghanistan

Posted October 1, 2007 9:13 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2007 8:40 a.m. EDT

— A two-time recipient of the Bronze Star and paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division was killed in action in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Sgt. Zachary D. Tellier, 31, of Charlotte, died of wounds sustained from enemy small-arms fire while on a ground patrol. He was a member of the division's 73rd Cavalry Regiment.

One of Tellier's Bronze Stars was awarded for valor when he pulled two paratroopers out of a burning vehicle in April 2007. His unit was conducting a mounted patrol when one vehicle ran over and detonated a bomb.

His hands were severely burned, but he jumped onto the vehicle's turret to return fire from its mounted gun until his fellow soldiers made him get out.

Spc. Larry Spray said he was was one of the soldiers Tellier pulled out of the burning vehicle.

"He was a good friend and buddy. He was the only who could calm me down," said Spray, who added that Tellier stayed with him in the hospital for a week.

"It didn't matter what happened to him, or how much he got shot at, he'd always keep fighting," Sgt. Michael Layton, a close friend of Tellier's and fellow member of the 73rd's 4th Squadron, said. "He was an elite soldier. He could've done anything."

Tellier's military and leadership skills were noticed quickly when he arrived at the 82nd Airborne in April 2006.

"Sgt. Tellier was one of the most motivated specialists when he came to the unit," Layton said. "He always wanted to improve himself, and he took a lot of pride in what he did. He cared more about his soldiers than he did himself."

Fellow soldiers said Tellier, who joined the Army in September 2005, was both a consummate soldier and able to relate to everyone.

"Tellier was a college E-4, but work with him one day, and you'd see he was the most deserving guy in the unit to be promoted to sergeant," Spc. Jeffrey Mews, a close friend, said.

"Whether the issue was personal or work-related, it didn't matter. ... He always hung out with his guys in the barracks. He was the best friend, best NCO any of us could have. He was the epitome of a super soldier."

Tellier's other awards and decorations include two Purple Hearts, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer’s Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Parachutist’s Badge.

Tellier is survived by his wife, Sara Tellier of Atlanta, Ga.; his father, David W. Tellier of Groton, Mass.; and his mother, Pamela Rodriguez, of Falmouth, Mass.