ARLINGTON, VA. After Lt. Col. David Canegata III died in a January helicopter crash in Iraq, his wife, Shenneth, buried him near their home in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On Friday, she was among several hundred mourners gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to remember Canegata and 11 other soldiers killed in the National Guard's largest single combat loss in Iraq. This time, family members and friends buried unidentifiable remains from the Jan. 20 Black Hawk crash.
"Considering the sacrifice my husband made, I just thought it was fitting," Canegata said about traveling so far from home to attend a second burial. "It's truly been an honor. If I had to do it again, I would. It's part of the healing process."
The soldiers' helicopter was shot down by gunfire in Iraq's Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad.
On Friday, several hundred mourners filed into the cemetery's chapel at nearby Fort Myer to pay respects to the 10 Army National Guard soldiers and two Army soldiers.
A horse-drawn caisson carried the casket holding the remains to the burial site at Arlington, where they were surrounded by the cemetery's seemingly endless lines of gravestones, some dating back to the Civil War.
Upon arriving at the burial site, loved ones gathered around, some wiping tears away during the sounding of taps. In honor of the 12 soldiers, several helicopters flew over ceremony through a sky with scattered, pearly clouds.
Every soldier was identified with some remains to have separate burials right after the Jan. 20 crash. But after several months of DNA and forensics tests, the Army National Guard couldn't identify all the remains.
Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, said the country owed it the families to still bury the unidentified remains.
"Do I hate to see the wounds reopened? Yes, but at the same time, there is a family bonding here that is so deep and sensitive that it's just ... words really can't describe that process," Vaughn said at the Army National Guard's Readiness Center in Arlington, where families held a private reception.
Canegata said it was the first time she had met family members of other soldiers killed in the crash. When the families shared photos and videos of their relatives in Iraq, she said she could envision her husband's life right before his death. "Through them I can experience that," she said.
Those honored Friday are: Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Va.; Lt. Col. David C. Canegata III, 50, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Capt. Michael V. Taylor, 40, of North Little Rock, Ark.; Capt. Sean E. Lyerly, 31, of Pflugerville, Texas; Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Iowa; Command Sgt. Maj. Roger W. Haller, 49, of Davidsonville, Md., 1st Sgt. William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock, Ark.; Sgt. 1st Class Floyd E. Lake, Sr., 43, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Sgt. 1st Class John G. Brown, 43, of Little Rock, Ark.; Staff Sgt. Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Va.; Col. Brian D. Allgood, 46, of Altus, Okla.; and Cpl. Victor M. Langarica, 29, of Decatur, Ga.