HYDE PARK, Cache County Lance Cpl. Michael J. Allred was laid to rest Monday with taps, rifle volleys, a hovering military helicopter, rumbling motorcycles, prayers and a flood of cherished memories.
Allred, 22, a resident of Hyde Park, was one of two Marines with Utah connections who were killed by a suicide bomber during the same attack on Sept. 6 near Fallujah, Iraq.
The other was Lance Cpl. Quinn A. Keith, 21, of the Navajo Tribe, who was originally from Utah but graduated from the Page, Ariz., high school before he enlisted. His funeral is set for Wednesday in Blanding. In addition, the car bomb claimed the lives of five more Marines.
Flags lined the streets of Allred's home town, Hyde Park, for the funeral Monday. Hundreds of friends and relatives filled the Hyde Park Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the services.
Allred was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq and had been scheduled to return to the United States in October. He had talked about becoming a teacher when he returned so he could continue making a difference in the world.
"In Marines' and (other) Americans' eyes alike, Mike is a hero," said Marine Sgt. Jeremy Parker, a longtime friend of Allred's. "He laid down the ultimate sacrifice."
Parker said a service was held in Iraq on Friday for the Utahn so that he could be honored by comrades who were unable to leave. Many in the service cared about him, "all across the country and all around the world," he said.
When their unit was about to cross from Kuwait into Iraq during the invasion last year, Allred walked back to the truck Parker was in and asked the other man if he would pray with him. They knelt in the desert praying. "That was an amazing strength he gave to me," Parker said.
The Utahn "made a difference," he added. "Not everybody can do what he did."
Parker himself dreads the possibility of making that ultimate sacrifice, but Allred "did it willingly," he said. Addressing the fallen Marine, he added, "You were an example for us all."
In the nearly 23 years that Allred lived, said his grandmother, Veda Jorgensen, he fulfilled many things. She prayed for the young men and women who are willing to place their lives in peril for the sake of freedom.
She offered "a grandma story to send Michael off." When he and another grandchild were on a trip with her, discussing how to find their way if they should get lost, she suggested that they pick out a landmark that they could use.
"Well, Michael spoke up and said, 'I pick that cow out there in the pasture,' " she recalled. That was his way, "always good for a laugh," she said.
"Goodbye, Mike, until tomorrow."
"You have fought the good fight," his older brother, Brad Allred, a resident of Logan, addressed him. "You have returned with honor."
Michael joined the Marines because "he wanted to be the best of the best, and he was," he added.
The family has been able to cope with the young man's death because they are strong as a family, but most of all because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said. "He rose again on the third day, and because of that, we will see him again," he said.
"What hope and reassurance that brings. Without it, I'd be a mess," Brad Allred added. "He left big shoes for all of us to fill. I love him dearly."
Other siblings Brooke, Daniel and Adam shared stories of adventures and mischief. At the end of their talk, the four said in unison, "Mom and Dad, your son has returned to the Father."
Bishop Roger Welsh of the LDS Hyde Park 2nd Ward compared Allred to the 2,000 stripling warriors mentioned in the Book of Mormon. They are young and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually, he said.
"I think Michael lived that way."
Stake President Marty Salisbury told the family, "We appreciate the sacrifice you and Michael have made.
"Those who have served the country, those who serve it now, we thank you," he added.
Dozens of motorcyclists lined up by twos for the procession to the Hyde Park Cemetery. One young man on a Harley-Davidson "hog" told the Deseret Morning News that Allred had talked about buying a motorcycle when he returned, and the riders were there to honor him.
Contributing: Ravell Call; E-mail: [email protected]