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Correction to This Article
Because of incorrect information from Arlington National Cemetery, a Jan. 17 article said that Brig. Gen. David Anthony Morris presented an American flag to Army Capt. Christopher P. Petty's widow, Deborah. Brig. Gen. Clinton T. Anderson presented the flag.

Soldier, Marine From Va. Get Final Salute at Home

A caisson bears the body of Army Capt. Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna at Arlington cemetery. He was killed in a blast Jan. 5 in Najaf, Iraq.
A caisson bears the body of Army Capt. Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna at Arlington cemetery. He was killed in a blast Jan. 5 in Najaf, Iraq. (Photos By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

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By Lila de Tantillo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A dreary gray sky set the scene as two Virginians who were killed in Iraq were laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Capt. Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna and Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Brown, 22, of Newport News were the 214th and 215th people killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

The morning drizzle let up just as the horse-drawn caisson bearing Petty's coffin approached the grave site. About 100 mourners followed the full-honors procession, which included a band and an escort that accompanied the coffin on foot from the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer.

Petty was among five soldiers killed Jan. 5 in Najaf when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee.

The band played "America the Beautiful" as the honor guard carefully folded the American flag draping the silver coffin. Brig. Gen. David Anthony Morris presented the flag to Petty's widow, Deborah. The soldier also leaves behind sons Oliver, 3, and Owen, 3 months.

Petty, who was born in Berlin and grew up overseas, graduated from Fairfax County's James Madison High School in 1991 and attended Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va. High school classmate Adam Cox, 32, said his friend was always quick with a warm greeting and a grin.

"There wasn't anyone he didn't get along with," Cox said. "Every time I saw him in class or walking the hallways, he was always smiling."

Cox kept in touch with Petty during the challenging years after graduation as their close group of friends juggled work, school and adulthood. Cox recalled the buddies unwinding with cards and listening to music at parties Petty would host at his home at least once a week.

"Chris's door was always open for me whenever I'd be there," said Cox, who lives in Denver.

Mike Schulz, 24, of Twin Falls, Idaho, served with Petty for three months in Iraq during summer 2003. Schulz, who had just lost a child, said Petty not only comforted him, but was instrumental in helping him come home to his wife then.

Schulz said Petty was generous with the delicious treats his family often sent him. Each time a package of goodies arrived, "he made sure his troops got some of it before he did," Schulz said. "He was always the last person to dig in."

Also killed in the blast with Petty were Maj. William F. Hecker III, 37, of St. Louis; Sgt. 1st Class Stephen J. White, 39, of Talladega, Ala.; Sgt. Johnny J. Peralez Jr., 25, of Kingsville, Tex.; and Pvt. Robbie M. Mariano, 21, of Stockton, Calif. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Hood, Tex.


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