Monday, September 03, 2007

Jeremy Bouffard laid to rest

Army Cpl. Jeremy Paul Bouffard was mourned yesterday as a son, a brother, a husband, a father and a hero.

More than 1,000 people crowded into the Bethany Assembly of God Church, 580 Main St., for the funeral of the 21-year-old Middlefield soldier, who was killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Multaka, Iraq, on Aug. 22. Among the funeral crowd were Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray, as well as scores of military personnel and several local elected officials.

Mourners alternately cried and laughed as Bouffard's pastor, sister and a brigadier general spoke of the joyful young man for whom loyalty, service, faith and love were abiding principles.

Bouffard and his family were members of the Pioneer Valley Assembly of God in Huntington. Pastor Toby Quirk said that the church, with 300 seats, is one of the biggest in its area. "But today, Jeremy, it's just not big enough for you and what you've done for us," he said.

Quirk said the Bouffard family spoke to him of so many fond memories, he could fill six episodes of a miniseries.

"They really loved this guy," he said. "He made friends naturally and spontaneously. He had a genuine appreciation for everyone in his path."

A boyhood drive to protect others from bullies transformed into a desire to serve his country, Quirk said. Bouffard was a member of the scout platoon 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, whose mission was to rescue oppressed neighborhoods from terrorists that prey on innocent civilians, Quirk said.

Quirk read a poem, "The Thinking Tree," that Bouffard had written when in training.

He also recounted some of the lighthearted pranks that the young man had carried out as a teenager and told of the fallen soldier's love of his family, including his wife, Amanda, to whom he proposed "again and again and again" just for the fun of it. Of Bouffard's young son, Caleb, Bouffard would quote a line from Bouffard's favorite poem, "The Light of the Stars" by Longfellow. "I see your hand, and I am strong again." He ended each call to his mother and his final call to his father with three words, "I love you."

Quirk read an essay that Bouffard had written on Red Sox fanaticism. "It's about time I admitted I have a problem. Hello, everyone. My name is Jeremy, and I'm a Red Sox fan," the essay read in part.

Bouffard's sister, Maegan Davis, said of her younger brother, "He was smart and thoughtful and a wonderful thinker. He was braver and stronger than anyone we knew," she said.

Brig. Gen. Dennis E. Rogers, deputy commanding general and chief of staff, U.S. Army Accessions Command, who has done two tours of duty in Iraq, told those assembled that Bouffard earned a Bronze Star for his brave and selfless service.

"He was a great soldier with a lot of heart, a soldier dedicated to all those other soldiers with whom he served. He made a significant difference in the lives of all he knew," Rogers said.

After the service, as the funeral cortege made its way down Main Street to the Massachusetts Memorial Veterans Cemetery, a few groups of people waved American flags at the side of the road. The Agawam Fire Department also turned out to honor Bouffard.

Bouffard was awarded a military funeral with all the honors. The honor guard from Fort Drum in New York served as pall bearers and also fired a 21-gun salute at the cemetery.

Military personnel played taps and a member of the Melha Highlanders piped "Lord Lavat's Lament" and "Amazing Grace" as the flag-draped coffin was carried into the chapel at the cemetery.

Bouffard's wife, Amanda M. (Burgess) Bouffard, was presented the flag.

From the Republican

Related Link:
Jeremy Bouffard remembered

Related Link:
Jeremy P. Bouffard dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'