Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bryan Chism laid to rest

GONZALES — Between the real estate signs and boards announcing “We have king cake” that line La. 44, pockets of people stood Saturday morning holding American flags, large, small, cloth and paper.

People lined both La. 44 and La. 30 to pay respects as family and friends attended the funeral and burial of U.S. Army Spc. Johnathan Bryan Chism of Prairieville.

Chism, 22, died Jan. 20 in Karbala, Iraq, when he was killed by raiders who attacked a provincial headquarters posing as a U.S. security team.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Chism was one of four soldiers abducted and later shot to death; one soldier died in the initial attack.

They were all assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division out of Fort Richardson, Alaska.

The funeral was held in First Baptist Church and officiated by the Rev. J. Victor Sheldon, rector at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.

The service was simple and Sheldon’s sermon included portions of Chism’s personal profile on his page.

“For heritage, he wrote ‘redneck/Southern,’” Sheldon read, and laughter rippled through the sanctuary.

Sheldon shared the information that Chism’s greatest fear was “dying alone,” that he wanted to die “in a blaze of glory on his bike,” and the country he most wanted to visit was “the U.S.A.”

The religious service concluded with the Army presenting Chism’s family with posthumous awards of the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge.

Despite the hundreds gathered in Hope Haven Cemetery for the burial service, the crowd was so quiet that you could hear gravel crunching under the feet of soldiers as they marched, bearing the casket from the hearse to the burial tent.

Chism is survived by his father and stepmother, Danny and Vanessa Chism, both of Belle Rose; mother, Elizabeth Chism of Prairieville; a sister, Spc. Julie Chism of Prairieville; stepbrothers, Eric and Dennis Bourg of Belle Rose; maternal grandmother, V.J. Snelson of Lawton, Okla.; paternal grandfather, C.B. Chism of Helena, Ark.;

Janet Broussard, president of Louisiana Blue Star Mothers, stood at the edge of the crowd with other Blue Stars. Blue Star Mothers, an organization dating to World War II, is an organization of women who have sons and daughters in combat zones.

Looking around at the crowd, Broussard whispered, shaking her head: “This is so hard. That so many people showed up is such a testament.”

J.L. Nesmith, one of limousine drivers, walked up to Broussard and opened his hand to show several bullet casings discharged during the rifle squad’s salute.

“I picked them up,” Nesmith said. “I thought his parents might want them.”

From the Advocate

Related Link:
Bryan Chism remembered

Related Link:
Bryan Chism reported killed in Iraq