Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tarryl Hill laid to rest

After the rifle volleys, the bagpipes and the prayers, hands -- some bare, some in white dress gloves -- touched and traced the name on Tarryl Hill's crypt in remembrance, grief and good-bye.

With a bitter wind cutting across Acacia Park Cemetery on Friday, Hill -- a member of the 1st Battalion of the 24th Marine Regiment killed by a roadside bomb in Anbar province, Iraq, last week -- was entombed in a chapel mausoleum. Family, friends and fellow Marines caressed the bronze letters and numerals on the crypt face spelling out his name and marking his brief life from 1987 to 2007.

One Marine, a portrait of grief in dress blues, bowed and pressed his fist for a long moment against the marble slab after it sealed up Hill's dark wood coffin.

Several hundred mourners filled New St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, on the west side of Detroit, for Hill's funeral Friday. Afterward, police led the sad, slow convoy carrying him to the cemetery in Beverly Hills.

"I'm just a regular guy," Hill, 19, said in an interview played to the gathering. "A regular citizen until my country called."

The interview was taped in December as Hill of Shelby Township prepared to ship out to Iraq where he'd join his unit whose deployment is being chronicled in the Free Press as Michigan's Band of Brothers.

His camouflage cap was pulled down and his smile was turned up as he spoke to the camera.

"We're ready -- always," Hill said as his buddies joked in the background. "We learn to count on each other. We are one."

Hill was raised by his grandparents, George and Sue Hill, and he attended Grandmont Rosedale Christian School in Detroit, where his first- and second-grade teacher Faith Butler said he helped start each school day.

"He'd always want to hold that flag and say that pledge," Butler said.

Hill's sister Dedra Hill and cousins Steven, Kevin and Marquetta Hill gathered behind the coffin and recalled how they were the inseparable "FAB Five" as kids.

"This may be the last time the five are together," she said. "Tarryl, in case you didn't know it, we love you."

A Marine honor guard escorted him and his family. The guards saluted and fired rifles in his memory. They carried his coffin, placed it in the crypt and knelt, presenting folded American flags to his grandparents.

Hill gave his life, said Marine Lt. Col. Stephen Lewallen, going out "every day to try to make things better for people he didn't even know."

"He was doing what he raised his hand to do," Army Chaplain P.K. Roberts, assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, told the mourners.

"So I stand here," she said, "and salute him for a job well done."

From the Free Press

Related Link:
Tarryl Hill remembered

Related Link:
Tarryl B. Hill killed during combat operations