Funeral for DEA agent Forrest Leamon of Woodbridge
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Forrest N. Leamon, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent from Woodbridge who died in Afghanistan last month, was remembered Saturday by his widow as "a gentle giant" who could toggle between his law enforcement and family duties.
"He had that ability to be strong and brave when the circumstances demanded it but also to be gentle, loving and a kind person at the same time," said Ana Leamon, who is pregnant, during her husband's funeral at McLean Bible Church.
Months after they met at a party in September 2007, he proposed during a night tour of the District. They bought a home, and he told her he wanted to have five or six children. Sitting with Leamon in the front row Saturday was Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who referred to the 37-year-old agent as "an authentic hero."
"Forrest was always willing to accept tough assignments," Holder said. "When the opportunity came to volunteer, to volunteer, to work in Afghanistan, the most dangerous assignment available, he stepped up again."
Leamon died in a helicopter crash that killed two other DEA agents and seven U.S. troops returning from a counternarcotics mission in western Afghanistan. The government has called the crash accidental.
Leamon's funeral was held on the same day as services for several of the 13 victims of the Nov. 5 shootings in Fort Hood, Tex.
In Plymouth, Ind., Sheila Ellabarger placed two foot-high American flags in the grass where she watched the procession for Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow. She said her children went to school with DeCrow and his wife -- his high school sweetheart -- and she knew other members of his family. "He was killed by a terrorist, in my mind, but he was still killed in the line of duty. We owe him a debt of gratitude, him and his family and the other soldiers. We owe them our lives, our freedom," she said.
During services in Norman, Okla., snapshots from U.S. Army Spec. Jason Dean Hunt's recent wedding were projected near his casket. The 22-year-old was described as a loving husband and family man as well as a soldier who left a legacy of selflessness and service.
Back in Northern Virginia, Leamon's superiors and friends also eulogized about his soft side. He delivered soccer balls to schoolchildren in Kabul, helped co-workers after their homes flooded in 2006 and assisted a woman who struggled during a marathon. He worked long hours, sneaking away occasionally to water his garden.
Michele M. Leonhart, the acting DEA administrator, spoke directly to Ana Leamon: "I want to tell you that Forrest won't be here when that baby arrives, but you just gained 10,000 aunts and uncles for that baby."
Other DEA agents who were on the Oct. 26 mission with Leamon attended the service, Leonhart said, and were heading back to Afghanistan on Sunday to "finish the mission."
The 2 1/2 -hour service Saturday drew about 1,000 people to the church on Route 7 in Vienna. Twenty-nine police motorcycles escorted the silver hearse and the motorcade to the church at 11 a.m.