Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sammie Phillips laid to rest

Rachel Crutcher knew from birth her son would be something special.

Crutcher remembered her son, Pfc. Sammie Phillips, in a letter read at the soldier's funeral on Saturday.

Many of the nearly 1,000 in attendance laughed when Crutcher's letter spoke of Phillips getting into trouble as a child, but it said she knew he would grow into a good man.

"I know you're in heaven saying, 'Momma, don't cry. I got this,'" the letter read.

Phillips, 19, a member of the Kentucky Army National Guard, was killed Sept. 10 in Rustamiyah, Iraq. His vehicle overturned while conducting a traffic control mission.

Along with mourners inside, the funeral, at Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, drew more than 200 Patriot Guard Riders and community members, who stood outside the church and lined the drive with American flags.

A few members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., who protest soldiers' funerals, were across the street from the church. They left before the funeral ended.

Inside, Chaplain Jay Padgett told mourners they should focus on hope.

"Sometimes we get so caught up in loss that we forget to celebrate life," Padgett said.

Friends, including a former baby sitter, spoke of their favorite memories of Phillips, eliciting tears and laughter from the congregation.

A letter from Phillips' wife, Ashley, also was read. Ashley Phillips' letter spoke of her grief, but said how happy she was to have had three years with him.

"You went from my high school sweetheart to my husband," she wrote.

A slideshow put together by Ashley Phillips' sister showing Phillips throughout his life was shown.

Padgett ended the service by telling those gathered that it was OK to cry and grieve. He said as a chaplain, he often asks soldiers with all they do to prepare for combat, if they are spiritually prepared as well.

Padgett said Phillips would have said yes.

From the Herald Leader

Related Link:
Sammie E. Phillips dies 'of injuries suffered from a vehicle rollover'