Monday, July 09, 2007

Will Chambers laid to rest

The Ringgold community came together Sunday to pay a final tribute to Lance Cpl. William Craig Chambers, its 20-year-old Marine killed in Iraq this month.

The 2005 Ringgold High School graduate and former JROTC member was killed in the Anbar province in Iraq on July 1 when the boat he was in capsized on the Euphrates River and he drowned, according to military reports.

Residents dotted the route from Temple of Praise, where the funeral was conducted in Rossville, to Anderson Memorial Gardens. Some waved American flags. Others stood with their hands over their hearts, and some saluted as the procession passed.

“What floored me was the people on the side of the road,” said Maj. James Creamer of Ringgold JROTC, and Chambers’ former instructor. “It’s incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

There was a full military funeral with a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and a formal presentation of the flag draping Chambers’ coffin. Among the several hundred attending were about 70 people associated with JROTC.

About 100 Patriot Guard Riders from Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama escorted the procession on motorcycles and flanked mourners at the cemetery. Gene Altman, Georgia state captain and a Vietnam veteran, said he rode nearly 400 miles from Jessup for the funeral.

“He’s our brother because a lot of us are combat veterans,” he said. “We had a real good showing today, and the family was honored today.”

Officiating Pastor Max Kessler of Harbor of Faith Church of God urged support for the military. “They’re protecting us; they’re fighting for our safety,” he said. “…Will has given so much for you and I. He’s given it all.”

The funeral was marked with patriotic, religious and remembrance songs including a live rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Pam Darr.

Chambers was a member of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. The military has reported that another Marine was killed along with him, but Chambers’ best friend, Chris Stone, said there were other Marines on the mission who are unaccounted for.

Not even a six-foot, seven-inch man like Stone would be able to withstand some of undercurrents in the Euphrates River, Stone said, explaining the top current flows one way while the bottom current flows another.

“They couldn’t train him for that,” he said.

Before the funeral, Stone and other friends remembered Will, including how much he liked to eat, how he could go swimming at 3 a.m. on a school night and not be too tired the next day and how he could never sit still very long.

Stone said their friendship began with a dislike for each other when they were in sixth grade and both liked the same girl.

“Then we found out she didn’t like (either one of us), and we said ‘forget it,’” he said. “We’ve been friends ever since.”

Once, Stone said, Chambers and others were working out when someone near him was lifting 285 pounds. He decided he would lift it, too.

“I was like ‘Dude, that’s like twice your weight,’” Stone said. “He was like ‘No, it’s not.’ He picked it up. I picked it up off of him.”

Chambers is survived by his parents, Darrell and Kathy, and younger siblings Allison, Shane and Summer.

Darrell Chambers said the family appreciates the outpouring of support. “The whole area has been just real good to us,” he said.

Chambers is the second Catoosa County Marine killed in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Joshua Scott of Tunnel Hill was killed in January 2006 when the Humvee he was in overturned.

From the Rome News Tribune

Related Link:
Will Chambers remembered

Related Link:
Will Chambers reported killed when boat capsized during combat operations