Virginia Marine Cody Childers buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Lance Cpl. Cody S. Childers, 19, of Chesapeake, Va., died Aug. 20 in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Childers is the 161st casualty of Operation Enduring Freedom memorialized at Arlington National Cemetery.
By Kafia A. Hosh
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cody S. Childers, a Marine from Chesapeake, Va., was laid to rest under clear blue skies Tuesday, a stark contrast to the somber mood at Arlington National Cemetery. The 19-year-old lance corporal was killed Aug. 20 while serving in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

At the cemetery, a horse-drawn caisson carried Childers's coffin, wrapped in an American flag, to the burial site, with about three dozen friends and family members walking behind. His parents, Randy and Wendy Childers, holding hands, led the group.

Childers's family sat beneath the shade of a tree on chairs wrapped in forest-green cloth. A soft breeze rippled the leaves overhead as his sister Cassidy Childers wiped away tears.

Childers was described by relatives as outgoing and cheerful, and they said he always wanted to be a Marine. The graduate of Grassfield High School in Chesapeake deployed about two months ago from Camp Lejeune.

In Afghanistan, Childers was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. He managed to escape death about a month ago when he was caught in a roadside bomb blast, family members said. The explosion caused a concussion, a dislocated shoulder and shrapnel wounds, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

This time, family members said, Childers was struck by enemy gunfire.

"Our hearts are broken. He'll be so missed," his grandmother Peggy Ewell said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Childers's aunt Jayme Montague told the Virginian-Pilot that Childers "died because he loved his country and he wanted to make a difference."

The Marine honor guard folded the flag, and one of the Marines carefully placed it in Wendy Childers's arms. The honor guard fired a three-volley salute, and a Marine bugler played taps.

After the funeral, Ryan Childers knelt over his brother's casket to say goodbye. A minute or so later, his grandfather Wade Ewell knelt beside him, wrapping his arm around him.

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