PORTLAND – Spc. Christopher Gelineau, 23, an Army National Guardsman who was fatally injured in an ambush in northern Iraq, was laid to rest Saturday with full military honors.
Gelineau was posthumously awarded Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals and promoted to sergeant. Brig. Gen. John W. “Bill” Libby, the head of the Maine Army National Guard, presented the medals.
Gelineau, a member of the Maine National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion, was killed April 20 when a convoy he was traveling in was attacked outside Mosul.
“There are those who are not willing to accept the minimum standards, those willing to give far more to their fellows” in the military, said Maj. Andrew Gibson, a Guard chaplain. “Let that be Chris’ lesson to us – that we might be willing to do a little bit more.”
He spoke after a Greek Orthodox funeral held in the University of Southern Maine’s gymnasium. About 400 people attended the service, including about 100 members of the Maine Army and Air National Guards.
The Rev. Constantine Sarantidis of Portland’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church performed the funeral, singing and chanting above the hum of ceiling fans that filled the gym with incense.
“The quality of life is not measured by length of years but by selfless service,” Sarantidis said. “By this measure, we can say Christopher Gelineau lived a full life.”
Gov. John Baldacci and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe attended the funeral. Baldacci presented widow Lavinia Gelineau, 24, with a Maine flag that had flown over the State House.
Although the couple were married for just two years, “you showed me what perfect love was,” she said, clutching a fuzzy pink teddy bear. “You will always be my hero.”
She spoke for several minutes about the couple’s life together, then picked up a guitar to perform “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx.
It was the couple’s favorite song, she said, in part because it was the only one Christopher Gelineau could play.
“It’s not going to sound the same because my heart is broken,” she said.
The service was followed by a burial in Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery, where members of the Maine Army National Guard fired a 21-gun salute.