A local soldier was laid to rest Saturday. Killed by a roadside bomb last Thursday in Afghanistan, funeral services were held for 30-year-old Army Sergeant Eric Newman. Married just last year, for almost six months in 2005 Sgt. Newman worked for the Waynesboro Police Department before deciding to pursue a full time career in the military.
He is now being remembered by many both inside and outside of his hometown of Waynesboro.
Serving a dual purpose, dozens of state and local officers from Wayne County and neighboring areas turned out for the funeral, not only to show their support, but also to ensure that things did not get out of hand. Over the last week officers say there had been reports on the internet that protesters might attend the service. Although one person was asked to leave from outside the funeral home for comments that were made, officials say there were no major disruptions.
Individuals from near and far turned out for the final farewell.
Complete with dozens of Patriot Riders from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, people continued to file in to the site of Army Sergeant Eric Newman's final resting place even after the start of the graveside service.
¶"This whole county is bleeding. Their hearts bleeding. Rich and poor and black and white stood shoulder and paid tribute to somebody. If you can't be touched by that, you can't be touched by anything!" says Wayne County Sheriff John Stein Farrior.
'Touched,' is the feeling Sergeant Newman's mother describes in reflecting on the community's support.
¶'It's awesome. I didn't think there would be all of this support. He's looking down saying , 'My goodness," says Dianne Newman.
From one mother who has been there, to another who is now there, the mother of Sergeant Robert Shane Pugh, who was killed in 2005 during a roadside attack in Iraq, offered consolation to Sergeant Newman's mom.
Another person there to offer support was Sergeant Newman's best friend in the military, Sergeant Aaron Hayes. Having enlisted in the army at the same time, the two were not from the same town but shared something much more profound.
¶"We joined the army for the same reason, to serve our country. We liked to talk about our place in history, even if it was just nothing more than two guys who were in the army together. We were part of history and that's what keeps me going," Sgt. Hayes.
Visitation for Sgt. Newman was held Friday night. That was followed by the funeral service at 11 o'clock Saturday morning at Freeman Funeral Home in Waynesboro. Burial was at Hebron United Methodist Church Cemetery in Wayne County.