Marine laid to rest in ‘aura of honor’
Marine Staff Sgt. David Stewart was eulogized as a man who had a great, far-reaching influence on many people in his life. “There has been an outpouring [of support],” said Nelson Stewart, the staff sergeant’s father. “People who have no idea who David is were paying their respects.” Stewart was killed in action June 20 in Afghanistan on his fifth combat tour.
Among those touched by Stewart’s life—and his death—were the hundreds of mourners who filled the seats and lined the walls of the U.S. Marine Memorial Chapel on Tuesday for Stewart’s funeral. The chapel is tucked away in a quiet corner of Marine Corps Base Quantico.
The atmosphere outside was silent, except for the occasional aircraft overhead. Service members saluted as six Marines carried Stewart’s coffin, draped in an American flag, into the chapel. Several people spoke about Stewart’s life, influence and legacy. Both Stewart’s father and father-in-law said a few words, at times touching on the family’s incredible sadness but also recalling the humor and joy that Stewart shared with them during his life. Nelson Stewart, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, was thankful for the immense community support following his son’s death. “It doesn’t really matter what the reason for paying respects is. It has a cumulative effect. It produces a glow, an aura of honor,” Nelson said.
Bryan Jones, his father-in-law, recalled some of the more humorous moments in his time with Stewart. He joked about meeting Stewart for the first time as a high school student, and not knowing “what his intentions were.” But eventually, Jones said, he came to know that Stewart was a great man who was always a caring husband and father to his daughter and grandchildren.
After the service, a long funeral procession traveled to Quantico National Cemetery for the burial. Uniformed Marines fired the customary 21-gun salute and bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” during the traditional military service. At the grave, four white doves were set loose and flew in circles above the service before disappearing into the tree line. Mourners tearfully looked on as Marines and Navy sailors laid gloves and pins on the coffin. After the services ended, Stewart’s wife, Kristine, took their 2-year-old daughter, MacKenzie, to the coffin to say goodbye to her father.
Kristine and David Stewart had two children, MacKenzie and their son, Marshall, who was born 14 months ago. Many of the speakers touched on Stewart’s continuing influence on people, even after his death. “David was a man of character. He was shaped by his friends and family; he was shaped by his faith in God; and he was shaped by the Marine Corps,” said Jones. “But mostly, he was shaped by [Kristine], MacKenzie and Marshall.”
Katie Shepherd 540/374-5417 firstname.lastname@example.org