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Hundreds Attend Funeral Service for Local Soldier Raymond L. Henry, Killed in Iraq

by JEFF ROWE Monday, May. 08, 2006 at 11:35 PM

A group of nine high school friends and an Anaheim family say farewell to a soldier killed on patrol in Iraq.

Hundreds Attend Fune...
raymond_l_henry.jpg, image/jpeg, 150x205

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Now, a gap in the circle

A group of nine high school friends and an Anaheim family say farewell to a soldier killed on patrol in Iraq.

By JEFF ROWE

The Orange County Register

An Anaheim soldier who planned a trip to Las Vegas this fall with nine friends now will journey to the desert resort alone.

Pfc. Raymond L. Henry, 21, was killed April 25 when a roadside bomb exploded near the armored vehicle he was riding in on patrol in Mosul, Iraq.

Henry's buddies who were to make the Las Vegas trip with him joined about 200 friends and relatives Saturday for his funeral in Long Beach. He will be buried near Las Vegas, where his parents are moving.

Improvised explosives have been the scourge of American soldiers stationed in Iraq, responsible for about half of the deaths of the 27 Orange County servicemen killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Henry arrived in Iraq about two months ago.

"He was an outstanding soldier," said Lt. Nicholas Sikes, who served with Henry.

Henry joined the Army in January 2005, trained as an infantryman and was assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in May 2005.

By all accounts, Henry was a perpetually cheerful soul, who used his good cheer as his passport through life – until he joined the basketball team at Western High School in Anaheim. There, Coach Joseph Aihara pressed him to be more than an easygoing, cheerful cruiser.

Aihara drew laughter during the service when he described Henry as "one of the worst morning practice players I ever had." Everyone knew of Henry's fondness for late-night video-game sessions.

But Aihara's challenge worked. Henry's grades improved and by his senior year, he was the starting center and led the team to the playoffs. After high school, he enrolled at Santa Ana College but left to join the Army, reasoning it would help him attain his goal of becoming a firefighter.

Seven weeks ago, Henry came back to Western, in uniform, to visit the very surprised coach.

"He had become a man," Aihara said.

And as the coach had changed Henry, his death changed the coach. News of the daily stream of deaths in Iraq had desensitized him to carnage, Aihara said. "But now it means a lot more - you stop, you pause, you think."

On that February leave, Henry also visited his recruiter, who told him, "Don't try to be a hero, just do what you are there to do."

But Henry did become a hero.

In his eulogy, Gen. Joseph Schroedel said that Henry's spirit lives in all 520,000 men and women in the Army and that Henry stands with all of them, including the general's son, who is serving in Iraq.

In Henry's honor, Schroedel gave each of Henry's nine close high school friends a commander's medallion, which he noted he only gives out for exemplary achievement.

"He made us all feel like family," said Terrance Harden of Buena Park, one of the friends. Henry called several of his friends' mothers his "second mom" and when Henry came home in February on leave, he brought flowers for some of the second moms.

Finally, it was time for the presentation of the flag that had draped Henry's casket.

Schroedel murmured his thanks on behalf of the nation to Henry's mother, Willieetta Robinson-Henry, who had maintained a steady demeanor while the general presented her with a campaign ribbon for her son's Iraq service, a Purple Heart for his combat wounds and a medal for his gallantry.

But the flag was more than she could bear. She cried as she accepted it, knowing it was as close to her son on this Earth as she would ever be again.

Copyright 2005 The Orange County Register

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SOLEMN DUTY

by JEFF ROWE Monday, May. 08, 2006 at 11:35 PM

SOLEMN DUTY...
raymond_l_henry_funeral_1.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x267

SOLEMN DUTY: Soldiers prepare to move the casket of Pfc. Raymond L. Henry, 21, during his funeral Saturday. Some of his friends, who said he made them feel like family, wore dog tags to the service commemorating the soldier from Anaheim.

MATT EICH, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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CIRCLING UP

by JEFF ROWE Monday, May. 08, 2006 at 11:35 PM

CIRCLING UP...
raymond_l_henry_funeral_2.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x267

CIRCLING UP: Raymond Henry’s friends comfort one another after Saturday’s funeral service at Forest Lawn Cathedral Chapel in Long Beach.

MATT EICH, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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HIGHEST SACRIFICE

by JEFF ROWE Monday, May. 08, 2006 at 11:35 PM

HIGHEST SACRIFICE...
raymond_l_henry_funeral_3.jpg, image/jpeg, 400x251

HIGHEST SACRIFICE: Willieetta Robinson-Henry is presented with the flag from her son’s casket Saturday by Gen. Joseph Schroedel. Henry, 21, is survived by his mother and father, Raymond Henry, next to Willieetta.

MATT EICH, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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LA Times Obituary Maria L. La Ganga Monday, May. 08, 2006 at 11:41 PM
don't shame the fallen Sheepdog Tuesday, May. 09, 2006 at 1:48 PM
poor boy Sheepdog Tuesday, May. 09, 2006 at 8:32 PM
Does anyone know how many? The New World Order Resistance Wednesday, May. 10, 2006 at 12:55 PM
miserable work Sheepdog Wednesday, May. 10, 2006 at 1:04 PM
so 3rd ID... Sheepdog Wednesday, May. 10, 2006 at 1:44 PM

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