Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Greg Gagarin laid to rest

Full military honors were accorded by the United States government Wednesday morning on Filipino-American Staff Sergeant Greg Phil Gagarin of the U.S. Army when he was buried at the public cemetery in Barangay Caterman here.

Gagarin, who was killed in action when an improvised explosive device went off last June 3 in Thania, Iraq, was accorded a 21–gun salute by the U.S. honor guards during the burial rites.

He also received from the U.S. Armed Forces the posthumous Bronze Star Medal, the fourth highest U.S. military award for gallantry in action, and the Purple Heart medal in recognition of his valor and dedication to duty.

Brig. General Simeon Trombitas, commander of the U.S. Army’s Special Operation Command based in Korea, led U.S. soldiers who attended the burial.

In the necrological service, Trombitas extended condolences to the bereaved family of Gagarin, who he described as “great war hero, great soldier and great leader.”

“We missed him so much in our command,” he added.

Trombitas, in behalf of the U.S. government, also thanked Gagarin's family and the entire Filipino nation for having a soldier like Gagarin and for being a hero of both the Philippines and the U.S.

Retired U.S. Air Force M/Sgt. Ernesto V. Gagarin, 73, father of the slain soldier, described his son as great soldier and a hero as he sacrificed his life in service of democracy.

Around 500 close relatives and friends of Gagarin attended the Holy Mass offered to him, officiated by a clergy of the Iglesia de Independiente or the Philippine Independent Church.

The burial rites, held around 9:30 a.m., were also witnessed by, among others, a representative of the U.S. Embasssy, U.S. honor guards and Candon City officials led by City Mayor Allen G. Singson and City Vice Mayor Nestor Itchon.

Gagarin was born on January 4, 1970 in Barangay Caterman, Candon City. At the age of 10, he migrated to the U.S. after he was petitioned by his father, who was then in the active service of the U.S. Air Force.

After his high school graduation at age 17, he served in the Californian National Guard and joined the U.S. Army. a year later.

According to his father, he opposed his son's joining the U.S. military but the young Gagarin insisted in doing so.

Gagarin had been deployed to Iraq several times. He was also assigned as member of the peacekeeping force at the boarder of North and South Korea.

Later, he returned to Fort Louis in Washington State, and then volunteered to be again assigned to Iraq.

Gagarin was survived by his wife Alma, also a native of Candon City and now residing in Taguig, Metro Manila. They have two children, a boy and a girl aged 4 and 3, respectively.

The older Gagarin also said his son was planning to retire two years from now and to stay in Candon with his family. (PNA)

From Balita

Related Link:
Greg P. Gagarin dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'