Jarrod Maher

Funeral service held for southwest Iowa marine killed in Iraq

TOM MCMAHON, Staff Writer 11/21/2004


IMOGENE - Cpl. Jarrod Maher made one last trip from high school to home Saturday. This trip was unlike the others.

Maher was laid to rest at Imogene's Mount Calvary Cemetery following funeral services at Shenandoah High School - the school from which he graduated in 2002.

He died Nov. 12 while serving his country in Iraq. The cause of Maher's gunshot wound is still under investigation.

The 21-year-old marine told his family and friends he was proud of his service there - especially helping the Iraqi women and children find freedom and a better way of life.

He died Nov. 12 at Abu Ghraib, a Baghdad suburb. It was his second tour of duty in Iraq. "He told us he felt safe. He was well-trained and would be careful," Jarrod's father, Kevin Maher, wrote in a note read to the congregation by another relative.

"He will always be our hero," Kevin wrote. "Thank God for giving him to us."

Kevin joined his wife, Jacque; sons, Tyler, Nick and Dan; relatives; friends; and a contingent of Jarrod's fellow marines in paying tribute to the young man the Rev. Kenneth Gross described as "ornery, daring and involved in life." Gross, who presided at Jarrod's funeral Mass, said the young man wanted to be a soldier since second or third grade. "He thought he was invincible."

Jarrod's classmates and friends likely saw themselves that way, too. But that picture was momentarily cracked when they learned of Jarrod's death - a death given in service to them.

Special sections of the gym were marked off for classmates. Kevin's note brought sobs and sniffles from throughout the congregation, but especially from that section.

"He wanted to see other places," Kevin's note read. "But he always loved coming back to Imogene." He described Jarrod's visits home last fall and this May - the last time loved one's saw the 2002 Shenandoah High graduate.

"It was perfect," Kevin wrote. "He was with his family during the day and with his friends at night." Jarrod had lots of them, Kevin and Gross both noted. "We stayed and watch him walk through the airport X-ray," Kevin said. It was the last picture they have of their son.

Both fathers - Kevin and Father Gross - spoke of Jarrod's love of music. How he learned to play the guitar and especially enjoyed blues and jazz.

They spoke of his love for his younger brothers. How he loved to toss the football around with them.

They spoke of his love of hunting and motorcycles. How he found a crucifix lying next to him after he took a spill on his bike and carried it with him from that day forward.

Mourners filled the gym Saturday. Sun filled the late November sky, breaking through after a week of clouds and rain.

Jarrod's brothers joined three marines as pall bearers. Gross assured the congregation Jarrod was in heaven and that, while they all needed to grieve, they needed to hold onto their faith - a faith shared by the man they came to honor.

The funeral procession stretched along Highway 59, traveling from high school to the Imogene cemetery. Mourners lined the route. A group of teenage Burger King employees stood outside as the procession drove by - at least a full five minutes. Even though it was noon, there weren't many customers. Most everyone was at the funeral.

On the Mount Calvary Cemetery hill, next to a sculpted crucifixion scene, mourners listened to Gross's final prayers and watched numbly as the marines gave their fallen comrade one last tribute. A 21-gun salute and piercing bugle "Taps" broke the cemetery stillness. Mourners slowly walked to their cars, each with their own memories of Cpl. Jarrod Maher - son, brother, relative, classmate, friend and soldier.

İDaily Nonpareil 2004