Army Spec. Raymond J. Faulstich Jr., who died after his convoy was attacked Aug. 5 in Najaf, Iraq, will be buried tomorrow after a funeral at St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church in Hollywood.
He was 24.
A service from 2 to 5 p.m. this afternoon at the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home in Leonardtown will be open to the public. "We want everyone to know what my son did for the country," said his mother, Linda Faulstich of Leonardtown.
His first wedding anniversary with his wife, Crystal Faulstich, would have been this month. She asked that in lieu of flowers, people make donations to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.
The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. John's, where Faulstich was an altar boy as a child, and his parents are active members. He attended St. John's School before moving to Arizona with his family; he later moved back and attended Leonardtown High School.
He drifted away from the church in later years; his dog tag at first said "no preference" for religion, his mother said, but when he went to Iraq, he changed that to "Catholic."
And before he left, his father, Raymond J. Faulstich Sr., gave him rosary beads to carry. "He had his rosary in his pocket," when he died, his mother said. "He came back with it."
His family attended a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Eustis, Va., where his unit is stationed. "We've known Ray a lot longer than the ones that talked about him yesterday," said his wife's mother, Dorothy Miller, "but they knew him to a T. . . . They asked for two volunteers to go in the war zone, and Ray volunteered. And [they said] that Ray saved a lot of troops by driving after he was wounded." He was in the lead truck, she said, and if he hadn't kept driving, all the vehicles behind him would have been stuck.
"The other two people in the front seat [of the truck] didn't get hurt," his mother said. "Just Ray. They said he drove on another mile before he passed out."
The father of another soldier went to the service Wednesday, his mother-in-law said, and told them Faulstich saved his son's life when he kept driving that day.
Faulstich was promoted posthumously and earned several honors including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.
He will be buried in the cemetery at St. John's.