Thursday, July 05, 2007

Daniel Newsome laid to rest

CHICOPEE - Eight days after being killed by a bomb explosion in Iraq, 27-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Newsome was laid to rest wearing his military uniform and leaving a legacy of service that was lauded by hundreds of people who attended his funeral service yesterday.

"He is a hero. He saved my life on more than one occasion," Newsome's fellow Staff Sgt. Jack G. Schnackenberg said. "You knew you were safe when he was out there with you."

Newsome was killed on June 27 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad. Schnackenberg and Newsome were in the same platoon, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Newsome graduated from Chicopee Comprehensive High School in 1998 and joined the Army that summer. He was deployed to Iraq in October 2006 after serving in Kosovo four years earlier.
At least 300 mourners filed by Newsome's casket inside the Castle of Knights and then paid respects to his young widow, Karen L. Newsome, his mother, Joanne M. Ritter, his stepfather, Eric F. Ritter, his father Flor Fuentes, and a long line of other relatives.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick, local legislators, city officials and more than four dozen fire chiefs and other fire officials from around the state attended, including state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. Newsome's uncle and godfather, Kenneth R. Willette, is the former fire chief in Wilbraham and is now the fire chief in Concord.

"Dan has brought all of us here today," the Rev. Joseph M. Soranno, the parish priest at St. Cecilia's in Wilbraham, said in his eulogy. "His spirit, his presence fill this hall."

Several photo montages and two slide screens were set up inside the hall and showed Newsome at various stages in his life. In one slide, he is seen cradling his baby son, who is now 1 year old. In another, he is seen hanging out with his platoon in Iraq.

"To Dan and to all of his comrades, we are indeed a grateful nation," Soranno said. "They are truly instruments of peace and hope in a fragile and often violent world."

Ritter spoke about his son's humor, his loyalty to family and country, and the need for those who loved Newsome to continue his legacy through his young son.

"His willingness to sacrifice for others will be part of his legacy," Ritter said.

A huge flag swayed in the wind between ladder fire trucks from Chicopee and Concord. A contingent of about 20 Patriot Guard Riders stood outside the hall holding flags as fire chiefs and state police stood guard at the doors and throughout the hall.

Willette thanked everyone who attended the service for their support. Earlier, Willette said the family is trying to deal as best it can with the reality of Newsome's death.

"We do it day by day. It's really a roller coaster of emotions," Willette said.

Following the calling hours and service, Newsome was buried in the Massachusetts Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in Agawam.

"In our mind he is a hero," Willette said.

Newsome has been honored with more than a dozen decorations and awards, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He is the third soldier from Chicopee who has been killed in combat in the past two years.

From the Republican

Related Link:
Daniel A. Newsome dies 'of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device'