Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Fallen Marine remembered, laid to rest Saturday

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Fellow Marines and friends of Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson carried his body to his final resting place at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Pictured are Corporal Robert Wilson, Lance Corporal David Volk, Lance Corporal Logan Benjamin, Lance Corporal Tyrell Ford, Lance Corporal Steven May and Corporal Kyle Harlan. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 


THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.


CLEARLAKE – An emotional week for the community came to a quiet conclusion under a solitary oak tree in the Lower Lake Cemetery Saturday afternoon.


There, Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson, a 22-year-old Marine who died on July 21 of wounds he suffered in an explosion in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, was laid to rest on Saturday.


Wilson's body was returned home Thursday to a carefully prepared welcome fit for the young hero.


A 2004 graduate of Clearlake Community School, Wilson – who enlisted in the Marines on Sept. 11, 2005 – was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Twentynine Palms.


At his Saturday funeral, Wilson was remembered for his gifts, his struggles, his laughter, his triumphs – all of them thrown into sharper relief by the sudden ending of a young life filled with optimism for the future.


Hundreds of people – family and friends, and supporters of the military, including nearly 100 motorcycles, many of them Patriot Guard Riders – attended the day's solemnities.

 

 

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Patriot Guard Riders members and other supporters of Ivan Wilson and his family stood outside of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church on the morning of Wilson's funeral, held Saturday, August 16, 2008, in Clearlake. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


So many people came to the church that overflow rooms were prepared in order to accommodate the crowds. Outside of the church, Patriot Guard Rider members lined the sidewalk holding large American flags.


Law enforcement and fire officials were in attendance both to honor the fallen Marine and help create a safer environment during the day's solemnities. Also in attendance were Supervisors Jeff Smith and Rob Brown.


The Rev. Ron Serban, the priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Clearlake – where Ivan Wilson took catechism and attended church with his family – said by the time he took over the parish's leadership three years ago, Wilson already had begun his Marine Corps service.


Serban said while he didn't know the young Marine personally, his brave acts on the battlefield – including pulling a fellow Marine who was wounded from harm's way – showed that his life was in “a very positive transition.”


In talking with Ivan Wilson's mother, Denise, Serban said the question had arisen of why the young man had to die, and why a loving god hadn't spared him.


Serban called it a good, honest and fair question – and one more than 4,000 other mothers have asked in this current Middle East conflict.


But the day – a day “full of pain” – wasn't about politics or ideology, said Serban, who said tragedies are a test of faith, and put the emphasis on remembering the young man.


Denise Wilson read a heart-wrenching farewell letter to her eldest son – her “Sunny boy Ivan” – telling him how proud she was of him for what he achieved and how he persevered, never letting defeats stop him from moving forward.


She told the hundreds of people who came to honor him, “I want to thank all of you who have walked this journey with me.”


She added, “I love you all and, most of all, Ivan thanks you.”


Colin Wilson, Ivan Wilson's grandfather, remembered his grandson as a typical child and teenager – noisy, inquisitive, sometimes difficult, but most of all, lovable.


He said his grandson believed in America, which is why he volunteered to protect the freedoms the country's citizens enjoy. Colin Wilson wished his grandson well on his journey to join his fallen comrades.


Serban read the last letter Ivan Wilson wrote to his family – written a month and a half ago, but only making its way to his family two days before the service.


“I guess it's safe to say we're at our final destination,” were the letter's first words, with Ivan Wilson explaining, in a letter that took two days to write, about the camp where he and his fellow Marines were stationed. Surrounded by mountains, the southern Afghanistan camp lacked both water and electricity.


For Bonnie Lou Schreiner of Hidden Valley Lake, who attended the funeral, the day brought back the devastation of her own son's death in Iraq last year.


Schreiner's son shared with Ivan Wilson the same last name and the same branch of the service. Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Wilson, 28, died on June 20, 2007, during his third tour of Iraq.


Raised in Brentwood, Stephen Wilson went into the Marine Corps immediately after high school, and had 10 years in when he and another Marine died while attempting to disarm an explosive device.


The pain of her son's death, said Schreiner, is something that never goes away. And while she didn't know Ivan Wilson, she came to show her support of him and his family.


The final farewell


Following the service Wilson's body was transported to Lower Lake Cemetery. As the procession wound its way along Lakeshore Boulevard, people stood along the way holding American flags.

 

 

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An estimated 100 motorcycle riders, many of them members of the Patriot Guard Riders, attended the funeral and rode in the procession on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


Lakeport Fire and Lake County Fire Protection Districts used their ladder trucks to hoist a flag over the entrance to Lower Lake Cemetery, where Wilson was laid to rest.


At the graveside service – where the young Marine was laid to rest under an oak tree – the Marine Corps presented the Wilson family with a Purple Heart, awarded posthumously to Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson.


Seven of Wilson's friends from the Marine Corps made the trip to Lake County this week to act as his pallbearers.


Corporal Robert Wilson of Bluffton, Ind.; Lance Corporal David Volk of Roseville; Lance Corporal Logan Benjamin of Pleasant Hill, Ill.; Lance Corporal Tyrell Ford of Gridley; Lance Corporal Eric Broline of Colona, Ill.; Lance Corporal Steven May of Houston, Texas; and Corporal Kyle Harlan of Mt. Vernon, Ill., made the trip. On Saturday, they carried the casket to and from the services, with Broline acting as an extra man in the detail.

 

 

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Fellow Marines and friends of Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson offer him a final salute during the graveside service at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Pictured are Corporal Robert Wilson, Lance Corporal David Volk, Lance Corporal Logan Benjamin, Lance Corporal Tyrell Ford, Lance Corporal Steven May and Corporal Kyle Harlan. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


After a brief service led by Serban, which included a rifle volley and the playing of “Taps,” the Marines carried out the solemn flag ceremony, with a US flag given to Denise Wilson and one to Ivan Wilson's father, Christopher Wilson. 


Following the ceremony, the young Marines' emotions began to overflow. The young men hugged and comforted Denise Wilson; Corporal Robert Wilson bent down to hug her, and when he stood up, tears trailed off the brim of his dress cap.

 

 

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From left, family friend Ginny Craven, Ivan Wilson's mother Denise Wilson and his sister Jackie Wilson during the graveside service at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


Nick Barrell, 21, who went to school with Ivan Wilson, wept as he knelt at the side of his friend's casket.


“He was a good friend of mine – still is,” he said, describing how they used to play cards and, on Sundays, played football.


Barrell said he had last spoken to Wilson after he returned home from his tour on Iraq, and before he left for his tour in Afghanistan.

 

 

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Nick Barrell, 21 (right), a friend of Lance Corporal Ivan Wilson's, is comforted by Christopher Wilson, father of the fallen Marine, as he kneels beside Wilson's casket at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 


“He told me that he loved his job,” he said.


Barrell said he had many good memories of Wilson, who he said was “top notch” in everything that he did.


That may have been why he was drawn to the Marines, where Barrell said Wilson “found his home.”


Many high school students have no idea of what they'll do after school, and neither did Wilson. But Barrell said he figured it out, got into the Marines and was moving forward.


“He's one of my heroes,” said Barrell, “and always will be.”


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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Corporal Robert Wilson of Bluffton, Ind. embraces Denise Wilson, mother of his friend and fellow Marine Ivan Wilson, following the graveside service at the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 

 

 

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An American flag hung over the entrance to the Lower Lake Cemetery on Saturday, August 16, 2008, suspended from ladder engines sent to the ceremony by Lake County Fire Protection and Lakeport Fire Protection Districts. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.
 

 


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