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IN MEMORIAM

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Pvt. Heath Warner

(reprinted from CantonRep.com, November 24, 2006)
Mourning a Marine: Pvt. Heath D. Warner
By LORI MONSEWICZ REPOSITORY STAFF WRITER

CANTON Marine Pvt. Heath D. Warner knew the work was dangerous.

The 19-year-old had told his family when they last spoke that “if something happened to him, he knew where he was going: He was going to be with Jesus,” his father, Scott Warner, told a crowd of 500 who packed Bethel Temple on Wednesday for his son’s memorial service. Heath was killed during a combat operation in Iraq on Nov. 22.

Scott Warner said that his son is going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, looked at the young man’s flag-draped casket in front of him and added, “… May your blood on a foreign land feed and produce a harvest of freedom.”

A 2005 McKinley High School graduate, Heath Warner was one of three Marines killed in a blast from an explosive device in the Al Anbar province in Haqlaniya, Iraq.

A horse-drawn hearse carrying his body later led a small procession through the city and past his home.

His family entered the sanctuary at the church at 711 25th St. NW behind a bagpipe player playing the “Marine Corps Hymn.” The families of other area soldiers killed in the war followed them inside, sitting together in the choir area, as Warner’s family sat before his coffin before the podium.

Two large screens showing Warner in uniform flanked the American flag above the Rev. Terry Kirschman, who read scriptures from the Bible and prayed that God would bring comfort to the Warner family.

“Although short in years, his life wasn’t without purpose. … Heath’s life was all about love,” said his uncle, Doug Metzger. Besides nephew, son, brother and other family titles, he said, Warner was “a Christian, a Marine and a hero.”

CHILDHOOD DREAM

Close friend Andrew Draime recalled how Warner had wanted to be a Marine since childhood, adding that he never saw a picture in which Warner wasn’t saluting.

Another best friend, Brad Mowery, talked about a time they shared at the mall when Warner was trying to get a girl’s phone number. Coaching him, Mowery told him to pretend he was interested in buying something.

“He came out of the store with a new pair of pants,” he said. “Oh, don’t worry – he got her number … . He took the pants back to the store two weeks later.”

Scott Warner gave the eulogy, beginning with the family’s prayers for the families of the two other Marines killed.

He talked about his son’s fear of driving before joining the service and the pride his son displayed after returning from boot camp. The father choked back tears remembering how Heath and his brother, Chandler, 14, went to “goofy, late-night movies,” and he talked about “the last alone time” he and Heath shared as father and son.

“We went to dinner at Carrabba’s (Italian Grill) and saw a movie at Tinseltown before he left,” Scott Warner said. “We were going to do that again when he came back.”

He asked the crowd to stand and applaud Heath’s mother, who despite being single and in the midst of “a crisis pregnancy” gave birth and struggled to give him “the best of the best of the best.”

“Not long ago, he thanked his mother for giving him life. It doesn’t get any better than that,” he said, wiping away tears as the crowd stood and applauded.

He talked more about his son’s desire to serve his country, “especially since 9/11. He loved this country with his whole heart. Let’s just say no one could trash-talk John Kerry better than Heath Warner,” he said as the crowd chuckled.

Then on a more somber note, he said, “On Nov. 22, 2006, God took our son in his arms and left a hero in his place.”