A Valley Tribute to its Fallen Hero

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

The lot was full. Hearts were heavy. Inside and out, people mourned a local loss ... a soldier ... a son ... a fallen hero.

"He gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Dick Keeler, standing across from Enders and Shirley Funeral Home in Berryville.

Keeler did not know David Owens, Jr. the 20-year old Winchester Marine who died in the line of duty in Iraq last week. But Keeler wanted to show his appreciation. His wife could not join him, but encouraged him to come.

"She said for me to go home and get the flag off the side of the house and it's kinda damp but it's okay and just stand on behalf of our family and show respect for this young man and his family," he explained.

Keeler was not alone. Ten-year-old Grant Shaw watched the funeral procession from the roadside. Grant has thought of being a Marine himself.

"But just the thought of being out there is pretty scary," he admitted.

Today, the battlefront and homefront collided. Grant says he's here to honor Owens' bravery.

"And to support the family of David Owens who lost their only son in a battle for freedom," he added.

Lance Corporal Owens played football and wrestled for James Wood High School. He joined the Marines in 2000, hoping one day to be a state police trooper.

Senator Russ Potts fulfilled that dream for him. At the funeral, Potts made Owens an honorary trooper.

Afterward, Owens was entombed at Shenandoah Memorial Park with full military honors.

Owens is the fifth Virginian killed in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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