Last updated: August 24. 2013 8:15PM - 247 Views

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    LIMA -- Aaron Todd Reese devoted much of his adult life to service to his country, but he was just about ready to move on and focus on his family full-time.    "His Army hitch was going to be over," said his father, Ed Reese, Friday afternoon. "He wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to his family and his children."    Staff Sgt. Reese, 31, was due home on Jan. 5 from a tour in Iraq with the Ohio National Guard's 135th Military    REESE/A7      REESE/from A1    Police Company. Instead, he slipped off a patrol boat on Dec. 10 and died. Another soldier, Spc. Todd Bates of Bellaire, dove into the Tigris River after him, and has not been found.    In the first and last press conference the family will hold, Ed Reese said his son was proud to be a soldier, and praised Bates for his efforts to save his son.    "Todd loved his country and was proud to be a soldier. He loved his family, where Todd gathered his strength, and he will now rest with his grandfather and uncle," Reese said.    His uncle, Sgt. James D. Shafer, died in Vietnam in 1967. James Shafer was a 1960 graduate of Elida High School. His grandfather, Spc. Paul T. Shafer, served in the Army in World War II.    Reese said the family is coping as best it can by flipping through old photographs of their son. Sgt. Reese's wife, Emilia, and two children, Anthony and Nicole, survive in Reynoldsburg.    "It's really been difficult. That's our only son, and I think we're in for an even bigger shock," he said. "It's tough when we're expecting our own son home for Christmas."    Reese also had high praise for Bates.    "Todd Bates was a hero, though his efforts to rescue our son were in vain," he said. "Our son took care of his platoon, and they all loved him."     

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