Saturday, February 24, 2007

Jennifer Harris laid to rest

Cold winds and icy terrain could not shrink the crowd of mourners who followed the body of Marine Capt. Jennifer J. Harris to her final resting place at Swampscott Cemetery on Monday afternoon, Feb. 19.

But the silence was broken only by the sound of dozens of American flags and the colors of police, sheriff’s and veterans’ organizations flapping in the stiff breeze as a white horse-drawn hearse, built in 1874 in New Bedford, rolled slowly from St. John the Evangelist Church on Humphrey Street, down across Burrill Street to Jared Raymond Square (the corner of Burrill and Essex streets named only last Nov. 11 for another Swampscott resident killed in Iraq) and up Essex Street to the cemetery.

This time, the procession was for the first Massachusetts woman killed in Iraq. Harris died Feb. 7 when the Sea Knight helicopter she was piloting was hit by Iraqi insurgents and crashed, killing all seven Americans onboard.

Military officials at first said the helicopter crashed because of a mechanical failure but later said they believe it was hit by fire, perhaps a surface-to-air missile.

The white hearse carrying Harris was built by the George T. Brownell Co. and is owned by the Solimine, Landergan and Richardson Funeral Homes. The horses that drew it were provided by Point of View Farm of Deerfield, N.H.

As the hearse approached the northern side of the cemetery, accompanied by silent marchers of every kind from every branch of the service, the winds howled again in anguish. Six Marines carried Harris’ casket to its grave site, two Marines held a large flag over it as a three-gun salute was fired and “Taps” played. The two standing Marines slowly and carefully folded the flag into a triangle and presented it to Harris’ parents while other flags were given to other relatives.

Eyes which had withheld tears until now suddenly became moist as three helicopters — not at all unlike those which Harris had piloted with such skill, even after it was hit by enemy fire — cruised slowly, at low altitude, overhead.

We even saw Marines with misty eyes.

From the Swampscott Reporter

Related Link:
Jennifer Harris remembered

Related Link:
Jennifer J. Harris killed in helicopter crash