Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lorne Henry laid to rest

NIAGARA FALLS — Cpl. Lorne E. Henry Jr. was dearly loved by family, friends and community, and his fellow soldiers in Iraq trusted the 21-year-old with their lives.

This was clear Saturday morning, as more than 300 people stood along Military Road in the rain, waving American flags and saluting as Henry’s funeral procession passed by.

And it was clear after the procession arrived at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, where about 200 more gathered to honor the Army specialist who died Feb. 27 in Iraq when the truck he was driving was hit by an explosion.

Henry served with the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, near Watertown, and had volunteered to be a combat engineer. It was a dangerous job in which he cleared roads of bombs and explosives to make the way safe for his fellow soldiers, said Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata, deputy commander of the division.

“A combat engineer has to be one of the smartest soldiers . . . and the bravest because he is dealing with improvised explosive devices at the very leading edge,” Tata told Henry’s family during the memorial service.

“He died a hero,” said Tata, who gave Henry’s parents a set of medals that had been awarded to the young soldier, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

A younger brother held a red carnation throughout the service, the second one held for Henry since his death. The first was held last week in Iraq, and on Saturday, Tata

read some of what was said about him there.

“These are quotes from fellow soldiers,” he said. “ ‘He was always the first to volunteer,’ ‘He was willing to go the extra mile,’ ‘I trusted him with my life.’ ”

The last one, said Tata, is “the one that really touched me.”

Those who knew Henry at home in the Falls said similar things.

“Caring, thoughtful, humble, goal-oriented, noble . . . these are just some of the words teachers and students have used to describe him,” Ed Maynard, Henry’s high school swim coach and teacher, said of the fallen soldier during the memorial service. “He was our quiet leader, and he always led by example.”

Maynard, who spoke on behalf of Henry’s family, said he and his wife, who also taught Henry, were both impressed with his actions as a student. The swim coach, who taught him during his sophomore year, said Henry was a driven student who earned a place in the National Society of High School Scholars and Who’s Who Among American High School Students.

He said he convinced Henry to join the swim team while he was in his class, and was impressed when he worked so hard he earned a varsity letter during his first season.

Maynard also said Henry touched his family on a personal level with the way he was able to connect and interact with his young son, who has autism.

“He gave him a sense of normalcy, and for that I am eternally grateful,” Maynard said. “To say he made a difference in his life would be an understatement.”

Henry was a 2003 graduate of Niagara Falls High School and was part of the varsity football and swim teams. He jo ined the Army on March 2, 2004. His older brother, Army Spc. John W., based at Fort Lewis, Wash., attended Saturday’s service. Both soldiers had been altar servers at St. Charles.

Lorne Henry had come home on leave to visit his mother, Wendy L. Kovacs, and his stepfather, Charles B. Primerano, just a few weeks before he died and had attended a church service, said the Rev. Stewart M. Lindsay, church pastor.

The young soldier was dating his high school sweetheart, Jenn Alex, and planning to leave the Army in August. Alex, along with several siblings and relatives, read from Scripture during the Saturday service.

“He was a quiet kid with a set of strong, good principals,” Stewart said after the burial in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

John Mikula, a World War II veteran from the Falls who saw action in Europe, was among those who saluted Henry’s casket during the funeral procession. He and many others, including Boy Scouts, busloads of military reservists and a group of 60 patriotic motorcyclists, said they did not know Henry but wanted to show their thankfulness for his sacrifice.

“This boy gave his life. Like I say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I,’ ” said Mikula, choking down tears. “What words can you use? It’s sad.”

Henry is the second soldier from Niagara Falls to be killed in Iraq. Army Staff Sgt. Aram J. Bass, a football and basketball player at Niagara Catholic High School, died during a battle last Nov. 23. Henry is the 28th soldier from Western New York to die in Iraq or Afghanistan.

From the News

Related Link:
Lorne E. Henry, Jr. reported killed in Iraq