Bonham Bros. and Stuart Mortuary was filled and overflowing as family, friends and even strangers came from all over California to show respect and to honor the memory of U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Robert Jarrett on Saturday.
Jarrett, 20, died on Jan. 6 in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, in Illesheim, Germany.
After the memorial service concluded in the mortuary chapel, Jarrett’s coffin was transported to Nuevo Memory Gardens cemetery on Ash Street, where full military honors were held. A large crowd silently gathered to offer what comfort can be provided to a grieving family.
More than 30 riders from the Patriot Guard quietly assembled. The guard lined the final walk toward the place of resting, holding flags in honor of Jarrett for service to the country.
Military pallbearers took the last walk for Jarrett, supporting a fallen comrade to a final resting place in the soil Jarrett called home. The sun was out, but dark clouds surrounded the Valley of the Sun when a 21-gun salute and “Taps” finished the final good-bye.
A general of the honor guard presented the flag to Jarrett’s mother, Brenda Jarrett.
Patriot Guard rider and Minister Pat Hurley of Chula Vista retrieved four shells from the 21-gun salute. The shells were presented to Jarrett’s mother.
“The first shell,” explained Hurley, “is to honor the fallen hero. The next three shells are for the trinity—the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”
The Patriot Guard Riders is a nationwide organization dedicated to honoring and maintaining the respect of fallen troops. Anyone may join, whether or not they ride a motorcycle.
“We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security,” said Hurley. “If you share this respect, please join us.” Many riders are veterans themselves, but it is not a requirement. More information about the Patriot Guard is on the group’s Web site at patriotguard.org.
A celebration of Jarrett’s life continued at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall on Kelly Street. Jarrett’s name has been added to the memorial wall by the flagpole, next to the names of other fallen heroes from Ramona.