Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jose Galvan laid to rest

There was little doubt in Joey Galvan's mind, during many hours spent handling demonstration rifles at Holmes High School, what he wanted to do with his life.

He fulfilled his dream after high school, becoming a Marine and serving his country in Iraq. So as about 500 friends, relatives and supporters gathered Wednesday to say farewell, they celebrated the life of a young man who followed a spiritual path toward service.

At a graveside service at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Chaplain David Kirk, a retired Navy Reserve commander, assured Galvan's mother that the Nov. 5 death of her son, 22, could never overshadow the devotion he demonstrated in rising to the rank of corporal.

"Leticia, though you have the deepest of sadness today, you may also be proud of your son," Kirk told Leticia Vega, who sat by Galvan's stepfather, Jesse Vega, a major figure in the young Marine's life.

Galvan, killed by an explosive in Anbar Province, was the second local Marine lost in that hostile region within a few days. Lance Cpl. Luke Holler, 21, of Bulverde, died from a roadside bomb Nov. 2.

Winds from a cold front at times threatened to blow off the flag that draped Galvan's casket. The rising flag seemed symbolic of a day to remember a young man who never gave up during three tours in Iraq.

"There is yet a victory," Kirk said, speaking of hope that follows grief.

The burial rounded out two days of farewells for the 2003 Holmes graduate. Wednesday's services were adorned by music: mariachis playing as mourners entered and exited a funeral at Victory Temple on the West Side, and a medley on bagpipes of "Amazing Grace" and the Marine Corps Hymn, after the sounding of taps at the burial.

At the funeral, as Galvan's flag-draped wood casket lay by the altar where he'd once proclaimed his Christian faith, Mayor Phil Hardberger said he longed to find words to express the sympathy and gratitude San Antonians feel for the family.

"But we in this community know the price that was charged and the price that was paid by Joey," Hardberger said.

He presented city proclamations to Galvan's mother, and his father, Hector Galvan, and embraced each of them.

Many mourners were in uniform — Marine dress, Army fatigues and dark blue suits of the Air Force Junior ROTC Corps to which Galvan had belonged. Some wore Holmes' green and gold colors to honor their first alumnus killed in Iraq. Since his father works at San Antonio Water System, some wore the utility's light blue work shirts.

It was a proper tribute for a colorful Marine still known at Holmes as "Gonzo," a moniker based on a popular big-nosed Muppets character. He had a brother, now in JROTC at Holmes, and a younger sister.

Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Harry Creacy, a Holmes JROTC instructor, recalled Galvan's serious side, the one that helped his team win first place in the American Legion National JROTC Drill Tournament in Montgomery, Ala. As he matured, he became a leader.

"From the onset, he wanted to be a Marine," said Creacy, 50. "More and more, he led by example. He wanted to carry rifle precision to the next level."

With a statesmanlike aura, Galvan was a big brother figure both at home and at school.

"Gonzo had this kind of magnetic personality," Creacy said. "He had such an impact on so many students in school."

He sought to be a career Marine and earn a degree. He loved cars, but valued faith, family and military duty, Creacy said.

Despite the example he set, a pall of sorrow settled Wednesday over Holmes High School.

"It's going to be a long, hard road," Creacy said.

From the Express News

Related Link:
Jose Galvan remembered

Related Link:
Jose Galvan killed in combat