South Alabama Marine who died in Afghanistan laid to rest
Published 12:21 am Wednesday, August 19, 2009
By By Adam Prestridge
special to the standard
Servicemen and women from all branches of the Armed Forces, including dozens of veterans, saluted Lance Cpl. Bruce Ferrell Jr.’s flag-draped casket as they gathered in Bryars-McGill Cemetery Monday afternoon to pay their final respects to the fallen Marine.
Ferrell, a machine gunner with the 8th Marine Regiment, was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on patrol Aug. 10, supporting combat operations in the Helmand province in Afghanistan.
Family and friends wept as members of the United States Marine Corp. honor guard folded the flag and presented it to the 21-year-old’s mother, Pam, a symbol of the nation’s appreciation for her son’s service to his country.
For Atmore America Legion Post 90 commander Aubrey Stanley, who served in the United States Air Force, attending Ferrell’s funeral was something he felt was his patriotic duty.
Former Navy seaman Jimmy Beck of Atmore was among the many veterans in attendance during the graveside service paying his respects.
An outpouring of support for the family was also evident at the funeral service at the John F. Rhodes Civic Center in Bay Minette as an overflow crowd gathered for the 2 p.m. service with some people opting to stand during the service. Among those in attendance were numerous local and state government officials. State Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, and state Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, who represent Perdido in the Legislature, presented Ferrell’s family with a commendation of service from Gov. Bob Riley, a certificate of memory and a flag that was flown over the state Capitol. The family also received a gold star banner from the American Legion and an Alabama Distinguished Service Medal from the state National Guard.
Ferrell, who graduated from Bay Minette High School in 2006, had only been in Afghanistan for three months after being deployed in May. He was laid to rest next to his sister, Danielle Whatley, who was killed in a car accident in 2006.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009, at least 706 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. Of those, the military reports 532 were killed by hostile action.