December 13, 2006
Marine Pvt. Heath D. Warner buried at Arlington
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON Marine Pvt. Heath D. Warner, lauded for his
dedication to America, was laid to rest amid the sounds of
Marine riflemen firing volleys and a bugler playing "Taps" at
Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.
Warner was praised as a man who loved God, his family and
country during the interment attended by about 30 family members
and friends, including his parents, Scott and Melissa Warner,
and his brothers, Chandler, 14, and Ashton, 7.
The 19-year-old McKinley High School graduate was killed in Iraq
on Nov. 22.
A gunner on an armored Humvee conducting operations against
insurgents in perilous Al Anbar province, he was killed along
with two other Marines when a roadside bomb blew up the vehicle.
Except for the noise of an occasional aircraft flying overhead,
the cemetery seemed unusually quiet and still during the
The service began soon after Warner's hearse wound up a hill
toward the grave site, followed by several vehicles carrying
mourners and a group of motorcycles ridden by Vietnam veterans
from the Washington, D.C., area.
Marine pallbearers carried his casket to the grave site as
relatives and friends walked behind.
Navy Chaplain Ronald Nordan told the mourners they had the
comfort of knowing that Warner's personal relationship with
Jesus Christ strengthened him in his service to the country and,
ultimately, the sacrifice of his life.
The family's pastor, the Rev. Terry Kirschman of Bethel Temple
Assembly of God in Canton, offered a graveside prayer. He said
Christ's death and resurrection have "provided life for us."
Referring to Warner, he said, "Though we say goodbye today, we
expect to say hello again."
Warner's father read a poem, "Eulogy of the Common Soldier,"
written by Army 1st Lt. Aaron Seesan, a Stark County man who was
killed in Iraq last year.
Told from the point of view of a soldier who has been killed,
the poem memorializes the plot where he has fallen as "a little
piece of America, a patch for the free man, which no oppressor
With pallbearers still holding the American flag above the
casket, Marine riflemen fired three volleys to repeated orders
of "ready, aim, fire."
As a Marine bugler followed with "Taps," the sun emerged from
behind hazy clouds to shine a little brighter on the gathering.
When the flag was folded, Marine Col. Gregory Boyle knelt before
Warner's mother to present it to her.
Giving her a hug and kiss, he spoke to her and other members of
the family. Later, Boyle presented Warner's Purple Heart to his
two younger brothers.
Warner went to Iraq about three months ago to serve a six-month
tour of duty.
Scott Warner described the family as emotionally drained and
struggling with mixed feelings of pride, honor and grief.
"You're so proud but you're grieving so strongly at the same
time," he said.
Warner added that he has been corresponding with some of his
son's fellow Marines since his death. As a result, he said, "My
sense of appreciation for him and his bravery and courage has
The family was "totally impressed" with the burial ceremony, he
added. The "compassion from the Marine leaders that came to
honor our son today meant a lot to us."
Heath Warner's tombstone includes designations for Operation
Iraqi Freedom as well as his Purple Heart. The family had two
more lines added. They read: "A Simple Person. He Gave So Much."