Friends, family pay tribute to Fort Liberty soldier killed in motorcycle crash

Monique John Image
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Fort Liberty 82nd Airborne soldier killed in motorcycle crash
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Friends remember Fort Liberty soldier Aaron Rathmann, of New York, who was killed when his motorcycle collided with an SUV in Fayetteville.

Friends and family of a Fort Liberty soldier say they're mourning after he was killed in a Fayetteville crash. The soldier was riding his motorcycle when he with an SUV Thursday night.

Police confirmed Friday that the person killed was 21-year-old Aaron Rathmann of New York.

Overcome with grief, Aaron Rathmann's friend, Jacob Wright struggled to speak as he reflected on his friend.

"Anytime that he said something, it was with purpose, and it left a powerful message for me."

"No matter who he was around, he treated everyone the exact same. He was the sweetest person to every single person he'd ever met," Lauren Spiess, another friend said.

In fact, Rathmann's friends say that to know him was to have a best friend. Rathmann, a member of the 82nd Airborne at Fort Liberty, was known for being open, charismatic, and an integral part of his community. Wright said he made his friends laugh by tattooing their initials on his leg and was a proud fan of the Buffalo Bills.

"He was just the life of the party, you know like it didn't matter what mood you were in before it. It didn't matter, because the second that Aaron showed up, all the negativity went out the window," Wright said.

Rathmann's loved ones tell ABC11 they're still adjusting to the reality that the 21-year-old was killed while riding his beloved motorcycle.

Meanwhile, friends say they're holding on to their best memories of him.

"Now that I think back," Rhiannon Wright, said. "I wish I would have been around more, or I wish I would have said yes to hanging out."

Rathmann's friends say they're holding a celebration of life at his favorite place, the Cadillac Ranch Dance Hall on Fort Bragg Road, to do what he did best. The celebration starts at 9 pm.

Fayetteville police are still investigating the crash. Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call Officer C. Biggerstaff at 910-751-1382.