Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Billy Bushnell laid to rest

JASPER — More than 350 people crowded into the Jasper School gym to say goodbye a fallen soldier.

Sgt. Billy Bushnell, 24, of Mt. Sherman was killed while in active duty in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday, April 21. An armored vehicle driver, he was killed when his vehicle was struck by enemy fire.

People waited in a long line to enter the gym and pay their final respects. Some shared reassuring embraces as they waited.

Family members and some friends wore Rolling Stones T-shirts. One friend told the Daily Times that the Stones was Bushnell’s favorite band.

While waiting, some friends signed banners in the hallway, saying farewell one last time. Greg McNeely, one of Bushnell’s fellow 2001 Jasper High graduates, was one of them.

“To Billy,” he wrote, “You were a true brother and I’ll always remember the times we had. Love forever.”

Friends spoke of memories they had of the son of Wesley and Peggy Bushnell, of games of “truth or dare,” of trips to the strawberry patch, of swimming in the Buffalo River, of friendship he showed to them all through the years.

Stephanie Bushnell, Billy’s sister, told the crowd that the family was comforted by the fact that they didn’t have to wait for God to call her brother home and that he always knew how much they loved him.

“And we all knew how much you loved us,” she said, addressing her brother.
Nicole Thompson of Gov. Mike Beebe’s office read a proclamation that the Arkansas Flag would be flown at half staff through today.

Bushnell had been a life-long member of the Mt. Sherman Assembly of God Church and Pastor Raymond White brought the message Sunday afternoon.

White spoke of Bushnell’s childhood. He also sang praise for the support the people of Newton County have shown the family.

White said Bushnell is one of many soldiers who have paid the ultimate price in protecting their country.

“But we can stand here with pride today knowing that we have men and women that will stand in honor and protect their country. And that’s what Billy Bushnell done,” he said.

And those words sparked a standing ovation that lasted for almost a minute as immediate family members hugged one another and sobbed.

As the casket was opened and the crowd assembled began to view his remains one last time, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” poured from speakers as tears poured from friends’ and family members’ members eyes.

From the Harrison Daily Times

Related Link:
William W. Bushnell dies 'of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by a rocket propelled grenade during combat operations'