Lance Corporal Holmes honored and laid to rest

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(Host) Services were held on Friday for 20-year-old Lance Corporal Jeffery Holmes of Hartford. Holmes died last week in the war in Iraq. Nine-hundred people filled the Greater Hartford United Church of Christ to honor the fallen Marine.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Sound of organ music.)

(Zind) There were many young faces at the funeral. Many were Holmes’ classmates and teammates from Hartford High School. Those who knew him best took seats in folding chairs at the front of the church, walking close by the flag covered coffin of their friend.

Holmes football jersey and his jacket hung in the church. They were reminders of his days on the Hartford High football team. He graduated in 2003. In his yearbook he wrote, “USMC here I come.”

Holmes was killed Thanksgiving Day while serving with the United States Marines Corps in Fallujah, Iraq.

(Pastor) “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow all of the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.”

(Zind) It was a quiet and simple service. Pastor Janice Chilek described visiting Holmes’ family – his parents Scott and Patti, and his 17-year-old brother, Cory. Together they looked through a short lifetime’s worth of photographs of Jeffery Holmes.

(Chilek) “I was struck by the smile in almost every picture – as a baby on his baptism day, floating in the pond with a pet raccoon, building model airplanes, playing football, rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles, watching the movie, ‘Willow,’ leaving for boot camp. The smile just seemed to always be there.”

(Zind) Chilek said the Marines gave Holmes a sense of purpose and commitment.

Governor Jim Douglas offered the state’s condolences and gratitude.

(Douglas) “He understood the risks and dangers. Nevertheless he did it for us. For this we should be thankful and we should be humbled. Because there are few in this world who would give so much and expect so little.”

“Render honors!”

(Zind) Holmes was buried at the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center. Several inches of fresh snow covered the ground and the bare trees. A crowd gathered around the casket, huddled against the cold.

A line of Marines standing off to the side in white gloves and immaculate dark blue uniforms paid tribute.

(Zind) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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