Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cameron Payne laid to rest

Pfc. Cameron Payne was remembered Friday by family and friends as a loving father with a great sense of humor and a knack for storytelling.

Payne's public memorial service at Riverside National Cemetery included a military honor detail and bagpipers. A private burial followed the memorial service.

Payne was killed June 11 in Iraq when a vehicle he was driving struck an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad.

The 22-year-old Corona native was married to his high school sweetheart, Julie, and was the father of two girls; Annaleese, 18 months, and Kylee, who was born in May. He is also survived by mother, Denise Jackson, and brother, Cody Gowens, 18.

Hundreds attended the Friday afternoon service, held at the cemetery's lakeside gazebo.

Longtime friend Helen Howard wore a green military dog tag inscribed with Payne's name and rank on a chain around her neck. Other mourners wore homemade yellow ribbons bearing Payne's name.

"He was a very, very sweet guy," she said. "He was really funny and he had a heart of gold."

Cindy Driggs, a family friend who taught Payne how to drive, traveled to the Riverside service from her job near Victorville.

Driggs said Payne was "thoughtful and introspective" yet loved doing adventurous things such as jet skiing.

"He loved his babies and he was a great writer," she said. Driggs added that Payne was inspired to join the military partly by his grandfather, who is a military veteran. Driggs said Payne's grandfather is also buried in Riverside National Cemetery.

Payne, who worked in a handful of retail jobs before he joined the Army in late 2005, was deployed to Iraq just five months ago.

He last visited his Corona home in May while on leave to witness the birth of daughter Kylee.

"He was a great father; he loved to play with his daughter," wife, Julie, said recently. "If you meet him, you would never forget him, even if you met him once."

Friend Kyle Keesler, who said Payne named his daughter after him, attended the funeral with friends from Buena Vista High School. The former classmates held a party for Payne during his May leave.

"I'm just glad I got to say 'I love you' before he left," Keesler said. "I plan to name my first child Cameron -- girl or boy."

From the Press Enterprise

Related Link:
Cameron K. Payne dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device that detonated near his vehicle during combat operations'