TURPIN, Okla. (AP) — The auditorium at Turpin High School was packed Sunday afternoon for Army Spc. Jared C. Plunk's funeral.
A member of Blue Star Mothers of America presents the family of Army Spc. Jared C. Plunk with a gold star banner Sunday at Turpin High School. Plunk was killed June 25 in Afghanistan. Some stood in the doorway paying their respects. Bagpipe music filled the room as friends, family and military personnel filed to their seats.
Plunk's casket sat in the band's pit, an American flag draped over it. To the side was his Turpin High School football jersey, No. 71.
Plunk, 27, was killed June 25 in Afghanistan.
"As I think of Jared, some thoughts came to me," The Rev. Stan Lehnart said. "He was not the valedictorian of Turpin. He was not the star of the football team. He was not the boy the girls ... wanted to sit next to at assemblies in this auditorium. He is the one who gave his life for us to sit here today. He is the one that served his country. He is a hero."
Lehnart described Jared as a jokester, always with a smile, and a twinkle in his eye.
"Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, we are reminded the price we pay for our freedom. Thank you, Jared," Lenhart said.
Justin Plunk, Jared's brother, recalled the times when he and Jared were bunkmates. Twice as children and once at college in Stillwater and in basic infantry training.
Justin paused to regain composure as he said his brother "was a brave man. We should all be honored. I am.
"Jared, I miss you. The family misses you. Despite your absence, you bring the family warmth. I am proud of you and it was an honor to serve with you."
The Rev. Ronnie Hepperley referred to the fight in Afghanistan as a fight for religious freedom.
"Death can't stop the love. It can't stop the legacy of Jared. When you look at the blond-haired little boy, 9 months old, you will see Jared's legacy," Hepperley said of Plunk's son.
Bagpipes played as the casket was rolled out, followed by the family members wearing yellow ribbons and Army camouflaged ribbons over their hearts.
About 130 Patriot Guard motorcycle riders lined the street leading to the high school auditorium.