WISCASSET – Hundreds of people including Gov. John Baldacci and members of the state’s congressional delegation filled a community center Tuesday for the funeral of a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month.
Pfc. Andrew Small, 19, of Wiscasset was one of three soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division who were killed when their patrol came under attack Aug. 11.
Small died while fighting off the enemy, and his actions allowed other soldiers to seek cover, said the Rev. Wally Staples, who led the service.
“He died an awesome hero,” Staples said afterward.
Attendees were shown a video that included pictures of Small growing up with his three brothers. His parents, Terry and Cindy Small, were presented with a Bronze Star and other medals, as well as the U.S. and state flags, Staples said.
From there, the family proceeded to Pine Grove Cemetery in Dresden, where there was a military ceremony with a bugler and a 21-gun salute.
Killed along with Small were Army Spc. Rogelio Garza Jr., 26, of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Army Pfc. James White Jr., 19, of Huber Heights, Ohio. Their convoy was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in the northeastern province of Nuristan.
The soldiers were members of the First Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, of the 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum, N.Y.
As mourners arrived at Small’s funeral, motorcycles filled a portion of the parking lot and an irregular color guard lined the sidewalk.
Between 600 and 650 people packed the Wiscasset Community Center, Staples said afterward. Among those attending were U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, U.S. Rep. Tom Allen and Maj. Gen. Bill Libby of the Maine National Guard.
News photographers were kept away from the community center. Reporters, including one from The Associated Press, were barred from entering.
According to state officials, the Maine Army Guard and the Air Guard have more than 560 personnel mobilized or deployed as part of military action in Afghanistan and Iraq in addition to full-time soldiers like Small.
On Sunday, Baldacci joined other officials at a Freedom Salute ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center for 129 members of the 152nd Maintenance Company, five soldiers from the Afghanistan National Army Mission and seven members of the Task Force Sabre.