American flags surrounded a graveside area at Resthaven Memorial Park Tuesday as a Shawnee sailor killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan was laid to rest.
Services for Eric D. Warren, 23, were held at Downtown Pentecostal Holiness Church, where nearly 1,000 people gathered before a long processional of cars and the Patriot Riders traveled from downtown Shawnee to Resthaven Memorial Park on SH 3.
Along the route were many area residents who stopped alongside the highway with American flags to honor Warren and support his family.
Underneath an area of trees that provided shade from the afternoon sun, the sounds of birds chirping, an occasional breeze and trickling water from a nearby fountain seemed to fade as the hearse and processional arrived after first passing an American and Oklahoma flag, along with military flags for every branch of service.
A man carrying bagpipes and playing “Amazing Grace” led Marine and Navy personnel as they carried the casket to the grave.
A crowd, including numerous military personnel from many branches of service, along with many veterans, gathered with Warren’s family and friends, where several presentations were made. Warren was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, which was presented to his parents. Other presentations followed, including a memorial commendation and Bible from the VFW.
The Navy Honor Guard provided a 21-gun salute, which was followed by the emotional playing of Taps by John King from the Shawnee VFW.
A Chickasaw ceremony followed, where it was said that Warren would want everyone to be happy Americans because, “He gave his life so we could have ours.”
Several attending said they were touched by the service and impressed especially by the community showing support for Shawnee’s fallen hero.
Many in attendance included Warren’s friends from high school. He attended Shawnee High School, then transferred and graduated from McLoud High School in 2008.
Kathryn Dowell said the classmates came together Tuesday to honor their friend and accept that he is gone, although she said he will never forgotten.
“It’s real now,” she said, adding that she, like others, were touched by the people alongside the roadway with American flags.
“It was heartwarming to see,” Dowell said, adding that Warren touched so many people’s lives.
She said she and her classmates, which typically enjoy the Memorial Day weekend as a time for summer fun, said Memorial Day will have new meaning each year to remember and honor Warren.
Warren was killed May 26 while serving his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. He died from wounds he received when an improvised explosive device detonated in the Sangin district of Helmand province of Afghanistan.
Warren, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy, graduated from corpsman school, and then completed Fleet Marine Force training as a combat corpsman, and was considered a Marine. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, 1st Marine Division (Forward), 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.
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