National Guardsman Alan Bean buried in Vergennes

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(Host) A Vermonter killed in the war in Iraq was buried Friday. Twenty-two year old Alan Bean, Jr., a Bridport native, was remembered by friends at the service as a dedicated soldier who felt called to serve in the war.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Reverend) “To all of you who have gathered here to worship this afternoon, I bid you comfort and welcome and hope, as we come to bury Sergeant Alan Bean. Rod Hoadley, a former member of our unit and himself a close friend of Al’s recalls referring to Bridport as ‘Bridgeport.’ Beanie would just shake his head and say, ‘I told you before Hoadley, there’s no GE in Bridport – it’s a just a little town.”

(Zind) The bright sun of a late spring day was muted by the dark stained glass windows of Saint Peter’s Catholic Church in Vergennes. A bagpiper accompanied the flag-covered coffin, followed by mourners who walked from the funeral home to the church through a quiet Vergennes neighborhood. Friends and family of Alan Bean were joined by uniformed members of the armed forces, veterans and local police and rescue units.

Bean and Sergeant Kevin Sheehan of Milton died in a mortar attack on a military base south of Baghdad. Sheehan was buried in services earlier this week. The two were the first members of the Vermont National Guard killed by hostile fire since at least the Korean War.

During the service, Bean was remembered as a soldier with a strong sense of purpose and a man of simple tastes who loved the outdoors. His friend and fellow Guardsman, Sergeant Tony Carrier, recalled the first time he met the man they called “Beanie.”

(Carrier) “When I first met Al Bean all I could think of was Opie Taylor in fatigues. A red-headed farm boy with a deveil’s grin. As time went by and I got to Al better, he only proved that my first impressions were right.”

(Zind) Vermont National Guard Adjutant General Martha Rainville said as a citizen soldier in the Guard, Bean put other first and accepted the risk inherent in his calling.

(Rainville) “A son, a grandson, a brother, a Green Mountain Boy. Sergeant Bean lived his life and gave his life to make a difference for others.”

(Zind) Alan Bean was graduate of Champlain Valley Union High School. He joined the Guard four years ago and was deployed to duty in January. He leaves a three-month-old son.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Vergennes.

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