Thursday, May 03, 2007

Jeremy Maresh laid to rest

From the deserts of Iraq to the rolling green mountains of Carbon County, National Guard Spc. Jeremy Maresh has come home.

Family and friends paid their last respects to Maresh, who died last week in Baghdad, during a viewing Wednesday at Jim Thorpe's Memorial Hall -- the borough's municipal activity center.

Visitors included representation from every Veterans of Foreign War, American Legion and AmVets post in the county, county Veterans Affairs Director Charles McHugh said. Some left the hall in tears.

As they drifted into the hall, a block from Jim Thorpe Area High School, where Maresh graduated in 2001, they were greeted by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, who attend the funeral services of fallen American soldiers.

Members of the group, who show respect for fallen military members and shield the family from interruptions, held American flags.

''We're here at the request of the family,'' said Lori Nuss of Hazleton, a member of the group who was serving as assistant ride captain for the services.

Early in the day, five Patriot Guard Riders held the flags at the door. As the day turned to evening and the crowds grew, a dozen members of the group held flags and did traffic control.

Inside the hall, mourners looked at pictures of Maresh, 24, of Bear Creek Lakes in Penn Forest Township, that showed him from infancy to high school to adulthood. Several pictures showed the then-burly teen powerlifting at Jim Thorpe High School, where he was part of the school's team. Maresh also wrestled for Jim Thorpe.

The pictures also showed Maresh in his National Guard Uniform, which he proudly wore after completing basic training.

One photo showed Maresh in his uniform holding his son, Shane, who is now 16 months and living with his mother in Penn Forest.

Near the photos were five military medals, including ones for meritorious service and good conduct.

In the hall, which is normally filled with joy from wedding events and laughter social events such as bingo games and concerts, was cast in a pall of mourning. Maresh's body was in an open casket, surrounded with flowers and guarded by a soldier.

Maresh was raised by his grandparents, William and Helen Fisher. They sat in the front row, greeting people who offered their condolences.

Maresh died April 24 in Baghdad. A Pennsylvania National Guard spokesman said Maresh died of an apparent suicide, but the Army is investigating.

Maresh was among 33 people with the National Guard's Battery A, 1st Battalion, 213th Air Defense Artillery, posted in Lehighton with a detachment in Pottsville.

He was later assigned to C Battery, 1st Battalion, 213th Air Defense Artillery, Spring City.

Maresh did military police work in Iraq.

From the Morning Call

Related Link:
Jeremy E. Maresh dies from injuries in 'a non-combat related incident'