When Missouri Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Robert W. Pharris re-entered the Army after an 11-year hiatus, he used his knowledge of raising goats and sheep to help the Afghan farmers he met.
"He was passionate about making the Afghan people know the farming methods that he knew," Staff Sgt. Shawn Buffalo said. "When he re-entered the service, he said, 'I simply feel like whatever I have to do for my country is not done.'"
Sgt. Pharris admired that the Afghan villagers could use few resources, Buffalo said. "They have a good heart over there. They want to do everything right," he said.
Sgt. Pharris taught the villagers about feeding the animals and administering vaccines. His goal was to provide suggestions for raising the animals so the people could become self-sustainable and improve on old or inefficient practices, Buffalo said.
Sgt. Robert W. Pharris of Seymour died Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, from wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. He was 48.
He was serving as an agriculture specialist with the Missouri Agri-Business Development Team IV and was working as a liaison officer to 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry at the time of the attack, according to a National Guard news release.
Buffalo said he met Sgt. Pharris in November 2008 in Monett and the two critiqued each other during training missions, which were designed to improve the performance of the unit.
They were "counterparts" and determined what they could do to complement each other's training, Buffalo said. In August 2009, they trained at Fort Leonard Wood with soldiers from Columbia.
Sgt. Pharris was passionate about his friends and family and "especially proud of his son," Buffalo said.
"He didn't give up on anything," Buffalo said. " He was unquestionably dedicated to his job, family and country."
Sgt. Pharris served more than 14 years in the Army after enlisting in 1981, according to the news release.
The visitation is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at Seymour Church of the Nazarene at 354 N. Main St. in Seymour.
Funeral services are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, at Seymour Church of the Nazarene.
Names of surviving family members were not released to media at the time of publication.