|Private First Class Matthew Bean, 22, Pembroke, Mass.
Bean survived three roadside bomb attacks, according to letters he sent home to his family. He was modest, his father, Dana Bean said, and had underplayed his role in discovering one roadside bomb and saving members of his unit. Dana Bean said he did not know his son had been awarded the Bronze Star for that action until military officials told him. Bean was shot by a sniper while searching for missing soldiers on May 19, 2007, and died May 31.
|From The Boston Globe
Pembroke mourns 2d native son to die in Iraq
By Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff | June 9, 2007
PEMBROKE -- In front of the Town Hall, decorated with patriotic bunting, town employees stood at attention. Clusters of families with jog strollers and young children waved small American flags. Members of a work crew paused and removed sweaty baseball caps from their heads and held them over their hearts.
They were among the hundreds of Pembroke residents who lined the roadsides as the funeral procession for US Army Private First Class Matthew Bean made its way from his hometown church to the cemetery, where he was laid to rest with full military honors after dying last week from wounds suffered during a mission in the south of Baghdad.
A procession of 100 motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders, predominantly Vietnam veterans who ride in solidarity with fallen soldiers, thundered alongside the black hearse as it made its way through town. Two Brazilian immigrants who work at a local Dunkin' Donuts shop stood in their brown-and-orange uniforms in respectful silence at the entrance to the cemetery.
Bean, 22, was shot in the head by a sniper with an armor-piercing bullet on May 19 during a house-to-house search for three soldiers from his 10th Mountain Division listed as missing in action, including Army Specialist Alex R. Jimenez from Lawrence. Bean died from massive head wounds on May 31 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
In Lawrence, the Jimenez family still waits for final word on Alex's fate, and tonight the city plans to hold a prayer vigil, a communal summoning of support for the family and an expression of hope that he may still be alive. A video tape released by an Al Qaeda- inspired group in Iraq last week showed two soldiers' identity tags, including that of Jimenez, and said the two were killed in an ambush in the Sunni Triangle on May 12. US troops found the body of the third soldier May 23.
At yesterday's service, Pembroke came out in force to honor one of its own, the second native son to die in the war in Iraq. The first was Marine Lieutenant Brian McPhillips, who was killed in April 2003.
The North River Community Church was packed with hundreds of town residents and Bean's extended family.
They were joined by Governor Deval Patrick, Senator John F . Kerry, and US Rep. William D . Delahunt.
The aisles were also lined with officers and honor guards from Bean's 10th Mountain Division, which is based at Fort Drum, New York.
The powerful funeral service was fused with Christian rock and presided over by the Rev. Paul Atwater, pastor of the church where Bean was an active member.
In a reflection by family members, his younger brother, Timothy Bean, 19, recalled some advice he had received from his older brother when they were working for a landscaping company and faced a big job on a hot day.
"You need to just grit your teeth and do it," Timothy recalled his brother saying.
"As we step into this world without Matt, it is going to be hard," he continued. "We need to remember what Matt said and grit our teeth and just do it."
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Morschauser, the commander of Bean's batallion, had just returned from Iraq for the funeral.
After the interment and after a five-man honor guard delivered a three-volley salute to Bean, Morschauser met with Bean's father, Dana, and at the graveside quietly thanked him for his son's service and sacrifice.
Bean was holding the flag that had draped the coffin, now folded sharply into a triangle.
Morschauser said that at times the war seems to be a distant reality for many Americans. But not yesterday in Pembroke.
"Here it hit home," he said. "Here what I see is a community coming out in full force, and I'm going to take that spirit back to the soldiers in the field who served with Private Bean. They need to hear that."
Charles M. Sennott can be reached at sennott[a]globe.com.