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JBER, community and family celebrate a life
Family and friends of Michael LeMaitre remembered Michael LeMaitre during a Celebration of Life ceremony held at Anchorage City Church July 13. LeMaitre went missing during the 85th Annual Mount Marathon race near Seward, Alaska July 4. While the search for him continues, his family chose to celebrate his life with the ceremony. LeMaitre was a member of the 673d Force Support Squadron, located on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
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JBER, community and family celebrate a life

Posted 7/23/2012   Updated 7/23/2012 Email story   Print story


by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

7/23/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A celebration of life ceremony was held at Anchorage City Church July 13 to honor Michael LeMaitre, who went missing during the 85th Annual Mount Marathon race near Seward July 4th.

LeMaitre worked for the Military and Family Readiness Center as a community readiness consultant. The MFRC falls under the 673d Force Support Squadron on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

"The ceremony was really wonderful," said Air Force Maj. Brian Rendell, 673d Force Support Squadron commander. "There were so many people who shared stories of Mike and celebrated his impact on the world.

"The event was about celebrating Mike, who he was, and how he lived his life.

Family, friends, coworkers, and others from the community gathered together to share stories, both funny and poignant, of Mike and how he had an impact on them.
The consistent theme was how great of a guy Mike was - adventurous, courageous, fun-loving, and always smiling."

Family and volunteers, including members of the Seward Volunteer Fire Department, Alaska State Troops, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, dog search teams and others searched the mountain for more than a week.

"The search for Mike involved various means: personnel scouring the mountain, trained dogs, and even aircraft with equipment that can detect heat patterns," Rendell said. "Unfortunately, each method has come up empty handed; it's very strange, no one is really sure what happened."

Most of all, they just want closure, he said.

"I don't want to give up on my dad. And that's why I'm in Seward, that's why I'm looking for him, out with whatever search crew is available," said MaryAnne LeMaitre at her father's ceremony. She said she wanted to bring him home, dead or alive.

The family chose to celebrate his life in order to remember his enthusiasm for it.

Many chose to speak fond memories of him, often describing him as being a pleasure to be around.

The speakers included many for whom LeMaitre found jobs and many he had shared adventures with.

"Someone mentioned that Mike has an Andre Gide quote hanging up at the cabin he built at Big Lake, it goes, 'Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.'" Rendell said. "I can imagine Mike getting in his boat and heading off into the sunset on his final voyage for some uncharted ocean. I think that's a perfect description of Mike-ever courageous-and that's how I'll remember him."

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