Friday, March 30, 2007

Anthony Kaiser laid to rest

Narrowsburg — With light shooting through the stained glass of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, more than 200 people watched in silence, as an American flag was crisply folded over the casket of Army Spc. Anthony Kaiser.

Kaiser's wife, Heather, stood behind the casket, gulping for air.

She could not speak during his funeral. She asked a friend to read her final message of goodbye. She read, tearfully, about how much Heather loved her husband.

"He was there for others, there for you and me," St. Francis Xavier's priest, the Rev. William Scully, said. "He gave for others, so others could live."

After the service, a crowd led by volunteer firefighters in dress blue uniforms, state troopers and Army officers, marched up a short hill to the cemetery. Two helicopters buzzed over. A bugler played, and no one spoke or moved, in honor of a loving man, a former volunteer firefighter, a former state trooper and an American soldier.

After the playing of taps, birds in the evergreens sang to each other, the only sound in the cemetery.

Kaiser, 27, a soldier serving with the 571st Military Police Company, was killed March 17 during a firefight at a military checkpoint at a marketplace in Baghdad. He was the first to spot and fire on several enemies attacking his unit, according to eyewitness testimonials read at the service.

For bravery under fire, Kaiser was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with V Device (for Valor), the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

Kaiser was not an ordinary soldier, his Army comrades said yesterday.

During his Amy training to become a driver, Kaiser got blamed for not placing a braking block behind his tire, recalled 1st Lt. Alyssa Briones, his former platoon leader. He was ordered to run around the truck 500 times. It turned out that someone had used the truck after him. He didn't mention it was someone else's fault, or complain about his undeserved punishment. "He just said, 'I needed a run,'" Briones remembered.

Back home, Kaiser kissed his wife every time he left the house, even when he took out the garbage. In Iraq, he displayed her picture in his tent.

In one of his last messages home, Kaiser wrote about love:

"Let every one of your friends know you love them, even if you don't think they love you," he wrote in an e-mail to friends Dave and Lorraine Mosiniak of Lakewood, Pa., just weeks before he was killed.

"You would be amazed what those three little words and a smile can do. So if God should call me home before I see you again ... I love you."

From the Record

Related Link:
Anthony A. Kaiser killed by small arms fire