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Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton is laid to rest

A rifle, boots and helmet are seen tied to a motorcycle at Crown Hill Cemetery. Numerous other motorcyclists participated in the procession carrying military gear and displaying flags to honor Sutton.

A rifle, boots and helmet are seen tied to a motorcycle at Crown Hill Cemetery. Numerous other motorcyclists participated in the procession carrying military gear and displaying flags to honor Sutton.

ALBANY, Ga. — Marine Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton was laid to rest Wednesday as thousands of Southwest Georgians lined the cortege route from First Baptist Church of Leesburg to the gates of Crown Hill Cemetery.

Sutton, 24, who joined the Marines in 2009 and was attached to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division, was killed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan during combat operations over the Memorial Day weekend.

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U.S. Marines stand in front of members of the Patriot Guard during Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton’s interment at Crown Hill Cemetery Wednesday.

"We know death is the end, but I assure those of us who believe in our savior Jesus Christ will indeed walk through the Valley of Death," First Baptist Pastor Bobby Harrell said during the eulogy at Crown Hill. "Death is the enemy but through faith in Christ we conquer death. You will visit this site many times in the future, and each time all you need to do is look up.

"On the way here today, we saw a lot of love for this family."

The day began in Leesburg at 11 a.m. as more than 240 Patriot Guard Riders filled two parking lots and formed a flag line as the gray hearse delivered Sutton's body to the church. The services were closed to all but family and close friends.

In the meantime, crowds were gathering along U.S. Highway 19 and Dawson Road to say goodbye to the fallen Marine.

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A woman and her daughter cling to one another during the funeral service for Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton at Crown Hill Cemetery.

South of Leesburg, around the Publix Shopping Center, crowds gathered en masse, ahead of the 2 p.m. funeral service.

People came with their families and friends and even a Little League team gathered together with their parents and coaches along the processional route. Two Marines in dress blues stood along side the crowd.

When the intersection of Forrester Drive and U.S. Highway 19 was closed down, hundreds, if not thousands, of people spilled into the northbound lanes of the highway and along the side of the southbound lanes waiting for a glimpse of a fallen hero.

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The hearse containing the body of Marine Lance Cpl. Steve Sutton travels in procession along Slappey Boulevard in Albany.

"I just wanted to say thank you for his service and and for paying the ultimate sacrifice for our country," said Karen Kavanaugh, as she stood along the route waiting for the processional to arrive. "And I wanted to support the Sutton family in this difficult time."

The procession approached the area and silence fell over the crowd. Everyone watched as the mile-long group of police cars and veterans groups on motorcycles moved slowly along the route.

As the hearse approached, tears welled in the eyes of some members of the public, gratefulness appeared on some faces, while veterans and those currently serving stood at attention.

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A Marine honor guard carries the casket with the body of LCpl Steve Sutton into the First Baptist Church of Leesburg.

Scenes like this could be seen up and down the route from Leesburg to Crown Hill Cemetery in Albany.

Along Dawson Road, City of Albany Water, Gas and Light boom trucks were set up in the turning lane with American flags draped from the buckets.

As the entourage turned into the cemetery, it was led by more than 30 law enforcement vehicles from Lee County and the Marine Corps Logistics base.

Casey Dixon contributed to this report.

Comments

lsk1 1 year, 10 months ago

Such a heartbreaking sight to behold! Miles of mourners standing shoulder to shoulder saying a last goodbye to our fallen hero! God bless America and our Heroes!

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sld28sld 1 year, 10 months ago

@Isk1, it wasn't just heartbreaking, but it was a beautiful sight to see everyone standing shoulder to shoulder honoring this young man and showing respect to his family. There were no racial lines to be seen today, it was all about a community gathering together to offer a family support and to show respect for an American Hero! I watched as people of all races handed flags to others, stood shoulder to shoulder, and stood united in support, united in pride for this young man's sacrifice and united in their Patriotic beliefs. THAT was a BEAUTIFUL sight. Even as the the motorcycles passed, it was as if we all stood in a world that stopped in reverence to this young man, because I believe they (the motorcycles) didn't even sound loud enough to muffle the dropping of a pin on the road way. So amazing, how it was SOOOOOOOOO peaceful during those minutes as the procession passed by.

Semper Fi, LCpl Steven Sutton, Semper Fi! You have left us in body, but your memory will remain strong in our hearts and minds forever. Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice and I know all of the soldiers that have gone before you will be saluting your entrance into the gates of Heaven.

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FlunkyMonkey 1 year, 10 months ago

I posed a question yesterday about this. Why can't we do this on Veteran's Day (maybe from Leesburg to Veteran's Park In Albany) to honor and pay tribute to all of our veterans, both living and dead? Why not make this a starting point in honor of LC Sutton? If two communities can come together for the funeral of a fallen soldier, why can't we do it once a year for all? Dignitaries from both communities can jointly lay the wreath...

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sld28sld 1 year, 10 months ago

@FlunkyMonkey - I don't have an answer for you as to why we can't do it. It's a shame we can unite for certain things for a few hours and then go our separate ways, yet we can't plan a yearly event where we set aside ALL dividers (race, age, political agenda, what side of the tracks you were born and raised on, etc) and honor all of the HEROs that have given this nation the freedoms and privileges that we have. We don't just need to remember the fallen HEROs, but those HEROs that continue to fight and those that returned home to their families. Their lives as they knew it before they left that very first day for Boot Camp was never the same after they came home from serving a tour somewhere. Especially those that served during a time of war. My dad was Navy, drove the Admiral's Barge and was on the USS Forrestal when it caught fire killing 134 sailors and injuring 161. Those memories are ingrained in my father's mind, just as much as the memories are ingrained in the minds of those that saw death on the ground or in the air. ALL of these men and women need to be honored yearly. Unfortunately it has taken the death of a local young Marine to make us sit down and ask these questions aloud and not just within our households. That question was one I heard a lot while standing on the road side yesterday. I am sure the family would LOVE a memorial walk in his honor and in honor of the other Vets that have fallen, served or currently serving this great nation. We should get with the American Legion and our counties to see about putting something together.

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FlunkyMonkey 1 year, 10 months ago

My father was a Viet vet who died as a result of exposure to agent orange. Any other parents, spouses, sons daughters, etc. of vets want to petition for this?

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