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Strongsville services pay respects to Marine who was killed in Iraq



Published: Wed, June 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Keeling was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

STRONGSVILLE (AP) -- A Marine killed in Iraq was eulogized Tuesday as a hero who had given his life for the freedom of others.

"Tom not only wanted to serve, he was willing to serve," Rev. Robert J. Kraig said at the funeral Mass for Lance Cpl. Thomas Keeling, 23, of Strongsville, at St. John Neumann Roman Catholic Church.

"His death will give life and freedom to many people," Father Kraig said.

Father Kraig said Keeling, who was confirmed at the church and received his First Communion there, was devoted to his faith and displayed it in kind acts toward Iraqi children.

Keeling and Cpl. Brad Squires, 26, of nearby Middleburg Heights, were killed June 9 in a roadside explosion in Iraq, and both were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brook Park in suburban Cleveland. Services for Squires were held Saturday.

Patriotic tribute

Small clusters of people, many holding American flags, lined the route from a funeral home in Middleburg Heights to Keeling's service and then to the cemetery. Many curbsides were lined with flags planted in the ground.

Outside the church, a large U.S. flag hung from an aerial ladder of a Strongsville fire department truck. The church message board flashed the request to "please pray for our military."

Keeling's body, escorted by a Marine color guard and saluted by veterans and police officers, was taken from the church as members of the congregation, some wiping away tears, sang "America the Beautiful."

Keeling received a criminal justice degree from Kent State University last year and was considering a career in the FBI.

He and Squires were assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division based in Akron.

Lance Cpl. Devon P. Seymour, 21, of St. Louisville, located northeast of Columbus, and Marines from Idaho and Washington state also died in the roadside bombing.

There have been more than 1,700 U.S. military deaths since the start of the war March 20, 2003.




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