Sunday, July 01, 2007

Shawn Martin laid to rest

Sgt. Shawn P. Martin came home Thursday.

Hundreds of family members and friends were there as the fallen Marine's coffin was carried into the Delmar church he attended since he was a child.

Martin had written that he was looking forward to coming home in his last e-mail to his family, sent weeks before he was killed on June 20 by a roadside bomb in Saqlawiyah, Iraq.

Those at the funeral Mass, held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, remembered him as a man who fit a lot into 30 years of life.

More than two dozen Marines, Army soldiers, Air National Guard members and volunteer firefighters from the Elsmere Fire Company -- where he was a member -- stood at attention as Martin's flag-draped coffin was taken into the church.

Members of a veteran's motorcycle group stood holding flags. Marianne Martin, the woman he fell in love with the night they met and whom he married in November 2002, held the arm of a Marine as she was escorted in.

In the church were bulletin boards bearing snapshots of Martin's life: Martin's 6-foot frame squeezed onto a couch snuggled up to his bulldog, Brutus; a pint-size Martin in a karate robe kicking a piece of wood in half; Martin smiling in front of his car, on the rear window of which he had written "Internet: $40, 2 12th Row tickets: $400, The smile on my wife's face: Priceless."

A singer belted out a version of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." The church was quiet afterward, except for the sounds of sniffles.

Martin was recalled as a man who made friends easily and who was protective of those around him.

Bryan Mosher, his uncle, told the crowd that Martin gave of himself easily, even to people he never met.

"To the Iraqi people he gave the ultimate gift, his life, so they too might not have to cower in terror," Mosher said.

In Iraq, Martin cleared roads of explosives during his work as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician for the Combat Logistic Battalion 13, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He was on his way to assist troops injured in an earlier attack when he was killed.

Martin was the third Bethlehem native to be killed in Iraq. St. Thomas also hosted the funeral of 25-year-old Capt. Timothy Moshier, who died when his helicopter was shot down near Baghdad, just 14 months prior. Army Sgt. Thomas D. Robbins died in Iraq in 2004.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed the lives of at least 14 members of the military from this region.

At the church, stories from Martin's boyhood brightened the crowd with a few laughs. Martin was the one who loved "Pictionary" even though he couldn't draw, who lost gracefully at "Trivial Pursuit" and who was "a rip."

Joe Feller, a family friend, said Martin fulfilled his dream of becoming a Marine and grew into a man who demonstrated respect.

"He became a man eager to step up to the plate and face any and all obstacles in front of him," Feller said.

After the funeral Mass, the line of cars following the hearse stretched for miles. They passed under a massive American flag hung across the road by members of the Elsmere Fire Company.

Hundreds of mourners gathered with flags as Martin's body was driven to his grave in the Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.

A Marine played taps as the crowd gathered around Martin's grave. A 21-gun salute was fired before a Marine knelt down to offer a posthumously awarded Purple Heart to Martin's widow and his mother, Dawn.

The Marine pallbearers then carefully folded the flag on his coffin and handed it to Marianne Martin.

The crowd dispersed, dabbing at their eyes with tissues, leaving family members a few more minutes with the fallen Marine.

From the Times Union

Related Link:
Shawn Martin remembered

Related Link:
Shawn P. Martin dies 'while conducting combat operations'