Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Stan Reynolds laid to rest

LASHMEET — Kathy Lusk looked heavenward Sunday afternoon as a dark cloud crossed the Wright Mountain sky above the Shutt-Shrewsbury Cemetery just moments before the start of the military graveside rites for Staff Sgt. Stanley Brian Reynolds, a Mercer County native who was killed Aug. 14, along with four of his comrades in a helicopter crash near Al Taqqadum, Iraq.

“It always cries when the good ones are buried,” Lusk whispered as she watched the cloud slowly settle above the small cemetery surrounded on three sides by pine, maple and walnut trees, but open on one side to a pasture owned by Curtis Murphy. “Stanley was a good kid. I saw him almost every day of his life when he was growing up. He was always trying to do his best for his family.”

The funeral procession for Reynolds left Bailey-Kirk Funeral Home in Princeton at about 3:30 p.m., for the six-mile trip to the small, mountaintop cemetery. Several family friends — mostly neighbors — filled out the circle in the open end of the cemetery, while members of the Patriot Guard veterans group held American flags at the cemetery entrance and formed a pathway for the Fort Knox, Ky., Military Honor Guard to carry Reynolds to his final resting place. A mix-up in communications resulted in an earlier report that the service was private, but Wright Mountain Road neighbors passed the word that friends were welcome.

“Stanley Reynolds was a hero ... a hero in so many ways,” Brigadier General John A. MacDonald, deputy commanding general said at a service at the funeral home. MacDonald, a third-generation graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, spoke from prepared remarks at the funeral home and shared some thoughts of Reynolds’ “fellow brothers in arms.”

First Lt. Bryan Pierce, Reynolds’ commanding officer, remembered the young soldier from West Virginia as “a hard worker, a loving family man and a friend to all,” Pierce wrote in comments he shared with MacDonald. “It did not matter your position or title, he treated everyone the same with utmost respect. Stan was always willing to listen to any story or act as a sounding board when you were having a bad day. Whether he cared about your story or not, Staff Sgt. Reynolds would hang in there for the whole story.”

Before the military detail arrived Sunday afternoon, Bucky Hall, a lifelong neighbor of the Reynolds family and close friend of Staff Sgt. Reynolds’ father, the late Bernard Reynolds, recalled the day that the young man wore a pair of shorts when he came to watch his dad, Hall and Mickey Hurst work on a tractor. “I called him ‘chicken britches’ that day,” Hall said. “He ran back into the house and changed into long pants. His dad never could get him to wear a pair of shorts after that.”

First Lt. Pierce wrote that he and Reynolds talked about his father’s (Bernard Reynolds) experiences as a U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal when he served in Vietnam. “Staff Sgt. Reynolds was always willing to help others out,” Pierce wrote. “His family opened their doors to his friends on the holidays when his friends didn’t have anywhere else to go. He was always looking out for his friends, making sure everyone was taken care of before himself. He told me he would never do wrong to others because it will always come back to you in the end.

“Stan loved working on aircraft, but he also had a passion for working on cars and computers,” Pierce wrote. “In his spare time, he could often be found working on his truck, when he was not with his family.”

It was Reynolds’ family that his battalion commanding officer, Lt. Col. Manley R. Alford talked about in comments he shared with MacDonald. “He loved Army Aviation, but I think he loved being a soldier too,” Alford wrote. “He just enjoyed being with soldiers and doing the things soldiers do. He also loved his family. His wife, Jill, and his three daughters (Katelyn, Kristan and Emily) were his life. He always bragged about them at work with his friends. The battalion will definitely miss Staff Sgt. Stanley Reynolds.”

MacDonald reflected on Reynolds’ “compassion for his fellow soldiers,” and characterized him as “a patriot, soldier, husband, father and friend. He was a great American who loved his family and his country with unbounded generosity,” MacDonald said. “Stanley made a significant difference in the lives of all who he knew, and through strength of character and deed, he had earned the utmost respect of his leaders and peers.”

The cloud that Kathy Lusk spotted didn’t linger long. It moved on as Rev. Larry Cecil gave a few remarks and the honor guard conducted the flag-folding ceremony. As the service continued, a seven-member rifle team fired three volleys and a lone soldier on a distant hillside played “Taps.” The service was brief. An honor guard member received something in his hand from the commander of the rifle team. The soldier placed his hand in the folded flag, removed it and handed the flag to MacDonald who went to his knee and presented the flag to Reynold’s wife, Jill. MacDonald repeated the process and presented another folded flag to Reynolds’ mother, Sandra (Shrewsbury) Reynolds.

After the service, MacDonald shared the fact that the honor guard placed “three polished shell casings” in the folded flag. He added that the honor guard gathered the rest of the shell casings and gave them to one of Staff Sgt. Reynolds’ family members “to distribute as he sees fit,” MacDonald said.

A few moments later, MacDonald returned and shared the remarks he made at the funeral home with the hope that his message and the words of Staff Sgt. Reynolds’ comrades might help the soldier’s family.

“Our hearts go out to those who mourn today,” MacDonald wrote in the most heavily annotated portion of his prepared remarks. “My deepest condolences go to his mother, Sandra Reynolds, who along with her late husband, Bernard, a proud Marine combat veteran, raised him and instilled in him the value of selfless service to his nation.

“My heartfelt sense of loss goes to his wife Jill, who loved him, worried about him, prayed for him and now honors his memory,” he wrote. MacDonald’s notes reveal that he obviously struggled through several revisions in preparing the two sentences he wrote, and read, to the Reynolds children. “Ladies, you should be very proud of your daddy,” he wrote. “He will always be remembered as a great man, a loving dad and a courageous soldier.

“I, too, mourn with others who served with Staff Sgt. Reynolds and who feel his passing as deeply as anyone does ... for he was a soldier ... wearing the same uniform, facing the same dangers, suffering the same hardships.”

Several people gathered at different locations along the route from the funeral home to Lashmeet. A man and woman stood together on U.S. Route 19 — one holding an American flag and the other holding a Union Jack, the flag of Great Britain. A man wearing a Vietnam Veteran’s cap stood alone on the roadside in Lake Bottom and several people gathered in the church parking lot across from the Mount Olive Road intersection with Route 10.

“Family and friends, my prayers and the prayers of a nation are with you today,” MacDonald stated. “Your son, husband and father, fellow soldier and friend will now rest from his service here in this hallowed land. He will be surrounded by others who have made that sacrifice. He will never be forgotten. His memory will be lived out in your memories and in the stories that will be shared. May God grant you the strength necessary to carry on and may the memory of his life give you hope and comfort now and in the days to come.”

One of his classmates from his days in elementary school recalled how Stan Reynolds watched out for her when she rode the bus. She said that he and his brother Jeff were her protectors. Bucky Hall recalled how young Stan slammed his go-cart into the blade of his father’s bulldozer, but mostly, people spoke about his abiding love for his family and what a good person he was.

From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Related Link:
Stan Reynolds remembered

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Stanley B. Reynolds dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'