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June 10, 2009 - Joe Gorman
The lasting image I have from Stanley Blane Hepfner's funeral is the piece of life he left behind in his 5-year-old daughter.
I was struck during a lull from the when the funeral procession for the fallen Army helicopter pilot arrived in Hubbard Union Cemetery Tuesday before the service started when she ran into the arms of a relative after someone leaned in and tried to speak to her.
Who knows the emotions? Later, she was laughing and joking while being held by Hepfner's sister.
Hepfner was a member of the 25th Infrantry Division's aviation element when something went wrong when he tried to land his helicopter during a training excercise May 27 at their base in Hawaii and the chopper crashed, killing Hepfner and another pilot.
Also sticking out was the anguished look on his mother's face and her waving to a helicopter that flew over the service just before it ended.
You cover a lot of funerals in this business, and talking to those around Hepfner one was struck that they really meant the words they said when they talked of how he loved the Army and his life.
The military chaplain, whom I sure did not know Hepfner, nevertheless gave the impression that he knew and liked the man during his remarks at the service. Obviously, he's had experience in these types of settings, yet his care and concern were evident. I was close to the tent over the casket and could hear him telling Hepfner's mother to ``take care of yourself' after she thanked him.
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