Farewell, sailorPublished 2:52pm Saturday, April 16, 2011
The cold, dreary weather set the tone for Saturday morning, when the funeral service and burial were held for Niles native Hospitalman Benjamin Rast.
Rast, 23, a 2006 Brandywine graduate, was killed by a hellfire rocket April 6 in southern Afghanistan.
Hundreds of people turned out for Rast’s visitation Friday evening at Brandywine High School’s gym. The funeral service was also held at the gym.
High-ranking officials of the Navy and Marines, as well as Gov. Rick Snyder. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. and Michigan Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, were in attendance at the funeral.
“Benjamin was a wonderful example for all of us, even at a young age,” Snyder said at the service. “We need to keep his memory in our thoughts and prayers. We owe you a debt we can never repay.”
Rast’s commanding officer said that the rank of hospitalman is one of “hope, caring and compassion.”
“He lived these attributes every day in the life he lived,” he said.
Burial was held Saturday at Fairview Cemetery in Mishawaka, Ind.
United States flags were lowered to half-staff in honor of Rast on Friday.
Rast, and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, 26, a Marine from Arlington, Texas, were part of a Marine unit moving in to reinforce other Marines under heavy fire from enemy forces in the Helmand province April 6 when they were killed.
His death is believed to have been caused by friendly-fire.
Rast was assigned as a hospitalman to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment 2nd Marine Division. Rast was stationed at the Naval Medical Center, Expeditionary Medical Force Detachment in San Diego, Calif. He had been living in San Diego for about a year, and volunteered to serve his first tour in Afghanistan in February.
Rast was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Pistol Marksmanship Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
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