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First Funerals for Victims of Iraqi Attack on USS Stark

May 29, 1987

Undated (AP) _ A ″fine young man″ who always had time for his elders and a sailor who was the sixth member of his family to join the Navy have been buried in the first funerals for sailors killed in the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark.

The funerals continued today, as the first of four victims to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery was laid to rest and more than 200 people gathered at a Massachusetts church to mourn another sailor.

Hundreds of relatives and friends gathered to mourn and remember Antonio Armondo Daniels and Brian W. Clinefelter at ceremonies Thursday in Greeleyville, S.C., and at California’s Riverside National Cemetery.

Navy honor guards, dressed in white, escorted the flag-draped caskets. The Purple Heart that is awarded to those who are injured or die in combat were given to the families.

The sailors were among 37 crewmen killed aboard the Stark, stationed in the Persian Gulf, when an Iraqi missile hit the ship May 17. Funerals and memorial services for the men were scheduled through the weekend.

At Arlington National Cemetery overlooking the nation’s capital, Seaman Earl Patton Ryals, 25, of Boca Raton, Fla., was buried today.

Taps was played by a lone buglar as seven riflemen fired a three-volley salute. American flags were presented to Ryals’ widow, who also was given her husband’s Purple Heart, and to the sailor’s parents. Ryals’ father is a retired Navy captain.

More than 200 people gathered in Fitchburg, Mass., for the funeral of Mark R. Caouette, 26, at Immaculate Conception Church.

The Rev. Richard Collette said Caouette, a graduate of Notre Dame High School and Assumption College, had written to him two years ago to tell him he had joined the Navy. ″You could just feel the pride that was radiating from the letter,″ Collette said.

The young man was buried at St. Bernard’s Cemetery with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.

On Thursday, about 450 people from Greeleyville, a farming community of about 600, gathered for petty officer Daniels’ funeral in the gymnasium at C.E. Murray High School. Daniels, 21, who graduated from Murray only four years ago, was buried at the National Cemetery in Florence.

″We knew him as a fine young man. We knew him by his walk and his talk. He always had time to say ‘Yes sir,’ and ‘No sir,‴ said Samuel Gibson, a deacon at Daniels’ church.

Clinefelter, the sixth member of his family to serve in the Navy, was buried at Riverside National Cemetery in California. His father and brother, in crisp white dress uniforms, watched as a Marine detail fired three quick volleys and a bugler played ″Taps.″

Members of Daniels’ high school class sang ″The Battle Hymn of the Republic,″ and Charles E. Murray, a former principal at the high school which bears his name, recalled the sailor as an artist and a member of the choir.

Murray told Daniels’ family: ″You have nothing to grieve for today for this has been going on since you came into the world and I came into the world. It will be going on after we leave the world.″

At the close of the service, the congregation saw a videotape of of Daniels as a child. The final image showed Daniels in his Navy uniform in front of the American flag. ″The Star-Spangled Banner″ played in the background.

Navy Capt. Edward Kelley, chaplain at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, conducted services for Clinefelter, a 19-year-old from Barstow, Calif.

″Give our brother, Brian, peace and rest,″ prayed Kelly, who also read the Scriptures at a 15-minute burial service. Kelley earlier conducted private services for the family at a funeral home.

After the Navy honor guard slowly folded the American flag held above the casket, one flag was given to Clinefelter’s mother, Sandra, and another to his father, Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary W. Clinefelter, now stationed at the Trident Submarine Base in Bangor, Wash.

Clinefelter’s brother, Dennis, 21, is a petty officer stationed in Pocatello, Idaho.

Funerals also were scheduled today for Petty Officer 2nd Class Jerry Boyd Farr, 36, of John’s Island, S.C., seaman Jeff Sibley, 21, of Metaire, La., and William Hansen, 22, of Reading, Mass.

A Saturday funeral is scheduled for 24-year-old petty officer Lloyd Anthony Wilson of Charleston, S.C., and private services are scheduled for Seaman James Plonsky, 22, of Van Nuys, Calif.

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