Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Larry Guyton laid to rest

A throng estimated at about 1,000 mourners gathered in and near the Brenham High School auditorium Saturday to pay final respects to U.S. Army Pfc. Larry Isaiah Guyton, 22, who died as a result of injuries received from a homemade roadside bomb earlier this month while serving in Iraq.

Guyton claimed both Brenham and Bellville his earthly homes. He moved to the Austin County community prior to his sophomore year in high school, and graduated from Bellville High in 2004.

His extended family, a large number of whom reside within 50 miles of Brenham, and a notable number of friends comprised the processional from the BHS parking lot into the hall. Included were his wife, Tonya Guyton, and sons Jaidyn L. and Kenyon T. Guyton (a full listing of survivors appeared in a Banner -Press obituary May 18. It is now available online).

When the vehicles carrying Guyton's casket and the survivors arrived at the campus, they were greeted by a line of more than 100 American flags stretched along the sidewalk in front of the building, held by military veterans, families who have sons and daughters currently serving in the armed forces, and simply caring citizens.

That group was part of more than 200 motorcycle riders, members of the Patriot Guard. They stood by outside during the observance and afterward led the escort to Prairie Lea Cemetery for the graveside ceremony, lining the road leading to the gravesite and holding U.S. flags.

Following 14 members of the Army recruiting corps and members of Guyton's outfit, “B” Company 1-S, of the famed U.S. Cavalry, two U.S. Navy members and a pair of U.S. Marines into the auditorium was a double-file line of family and friends that stretched back out to the parking lot and kept coming in for more than five minutes.

Soldiers also bore Guyton's casket into and out of the auditorium.

The audience members viewed a photo collage of Guyton's life in the lobby, which continued in a slide presentation in the hall itself, and was also contained in the schedule of the service. While being seated, “America the Beautiful” was played on a piano. Flowers lined the front of the stage.

Adrian Lang, funeral director from Lang Memorial Funeral Home of Giddings and Houston, said 750 service programs were printed, and they were exhausted before about 100 attendees could receive them.

Mother Andrea McDonald of Brenham composed a letter which was read aloud to the audience and contained in the schedule of service:

“My Precious Son”

“I wish I could see you one more time come walking through my door
But I know that is impossible, I will hear your voice no more
I know you can feel my tears and you don't want me to cry
Yet, my heart is broken because I can't understand why
Someone so precious had to die

I pray that God will give me strength and somehow get me through
As I struggle with this heartache that was caused by losing you
I can't tell you sweetheart how many tears I've cried
Since the day I was told my precious son had died
It seems impossible although I know it's true
Because everything I see reminds me of you

I still hear your laughter, see the smile on your face
I would have lost my sanity if it was not for God's saving grace
I have to close this letter now, but this is not good-bye
For you will forever walk softly in my heart and in my mind”

Tributes from Tonya Guyton, the couple's sons, Larry Guyton's sisters and his godbrothers and godsisters were also included within the schedule of service.

Ministers who brought messages of comfort and praise to the assemblage included Pastor Arthur E. Glover of Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, where Guyton first became a member under the Rev. Jesse L. Turner . The Rev. L.J. Allen also spoke.

Guyton first accepted Christ at an early age at Macedonia Missionary Baptist under the leadership of the Rev. Keith Kallie, who read from the Old Testament.

Allen offered the prayer of comfort. Readings from the New Testament were given by the Rev. Cecil McDowell.

The ceremony closed with the Rev. Glover proclaiming the Gospel.

Vocal music selections were presented by Suzanne Wilson and Shirley Benjamin, both of which met with regular applause and exclamations of “amen!” and “hallelujah!”

A trim Lloyd Turner Jr., attired in a black body suit and a theatrical mask, presented an interpretive “praise dance,” frequently pointing toward heaven, which elicited a standing ovation from the crowd.

Several speakers talked about how it had been nearly a life-long dream of Guyton to join the military, including his involvement with Junior ROTC at Bellville High. The wish finally came true when he enlisted on Aug. 4, 2005.

Sgt. Hector Gonzales, an Army recruiter, was one of those who gave “special expressions.”

“As you loved him,” he said to the family and friends, “so did his fellow soldiers.”

The Rev. Allen hoped the audience would make the young soldier's entry into heaven “a joyous occasion,” and would always hold dear the memories of “this man who laid down his life for you and I.”

It was noted that Sgt. 1st Class David Vajgert of the 1st Cavalry had met with Andrea McDonald to offer his condolences.

As the casket was moved by the Army troops from the stage back to the funeral coach, with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” being played softly on the piano, the soldiers not carrying the casket, members of the other Armed Forces, veterans in the motorcycle group and the American Legion, and police officers, deputy sheriffs, EMS personnel and fire fighters, maintained crisp salutes until the funeral coach door was secured.

Then, the Patriot Guard's motorcycles rumbled to life, and with those flags that had greeted the mourners now attached to the bikes and flying freely in the warm breeze, thus began the slow journey to Pfc. Larry Guyton's final, physical, resting place.

“It's not about how he died,” declared the Rev. Allen, “it's how he lived. Welcome home, good and faithful servant.”

Flag-holding crowds lined street leading to the cemetery, and the Brenham Fire Department used two of its trucks to form a ceremonial arch across Prairie Lea Street near the entrance to the cemetery.

From the Brenham Banner Press

Related Link:
Larry Guyton remembered

Related Link:
Larry I. Guyton dies of injuries from I.E.D.