Marine Lance Cpl. John M. Holmason, 20, of Suprise, Ariz.
Lance Cpl Holmason was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); killed Dec. 1 by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Fallujah, Iraq.
SCAPPOOSE -- Two photo portraits of John Holmason faced the more than 800 gathered Sunday morning to honor the dead 20-year-old Marine.
In one, he stood straight-faced in his dress blues, the U.S. Marine Corps flag behind him. In the other, he smiled as he sat in a turtleneck and slacks with his hands clasped around his knees, a wall of yellow leaves in the background.
Two pictures showed a bit of a life just 2 decades old, remembered in a memorial service at Scappoose High School.
Lance Cpl. Holmason died Dec. 1 with nine other Marines from an improvised explosive devise that injured 11 more from his unit. They were at a promotion ceremony in a makeshift patrol base outside Fallujah when the explosion occurred, rather than on a foot patrol as reported initially.
Holmason joined the Marines in August 2004, completed boot camp in February and was sent to Iraq in July. He died 46 days short of his 21st birthday, which he was expecting to celebrate at home before heading back to Iraq.
Instead, his body was brought back to a crowd that gathered in the gym of the school he graduated from in 2003. A colorful mix of orange and black trimmed the walls and the floor, along with red, white and blue in floral arrangements and bows.
A bagpiper played the "U.S. Marine Corps Hymn" as white-gloved Marines brought in his casket draped by the U.S. flag.
Prayers, songs, videos and spoken remembrances by family, friends and fellow servicemen followed. They spoke of Holmason as a disciplined Eagle Scout, playful prankster, fun-loving outdoorsman, got-your-back brother, devoted son and grandson, and dedicated Marine.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a former Marine, spoke at the Holmason's funeral, as has been his pledge for all service members killed overseas.
His death is an irreplaceable loss to his family and Scappoose, Kulongoski said, but Holmason's life had an undeniable grace and meaning. As with all of the young who have died of late in military service, Kulongoski said, it's hard to watch such talent and promise eclipsed.
"Our state is forever diminished by his loss," Kulongoski said, before presenting Purple Heart medals and the state flags to Holmason's family.
Many moments of the service brought tears, sniffles and throat-clearing.
Jenae Ricker of St. Helens spoke of her cousin treating her as a sister, vowing to protect her.
"I never knew he meant he'd be watching over me," she said.
But laughter also erupted at memories shared, rumbling through the crowd as one photo flashed of Holmason as a boy side-by-side with a girl grinning into the camera, both in curlers.
Senior Airman Christopher Huber of the U.S. Air Force, spoke of fun times shared as children, serious concerns as adults and a growing respect for his cousin.
"For the man he was becoming," Huber said, "and the man he already had become."
Holmason is survived by his father and stepmother, Tim and Paula Holmason, his mother and stepfather, Karla and Mark Comfort; siblings, Hailee, Hunter and Jaden Holmason and Josh and Jacob Comfort; stepsister, Kaysha Comfort; and numerous other relatives.
Marine Lance Cpl. John M. Holmason was killed in action on 12/01/05.