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thedrifter
01-16-09, 09:07 AM
January 16, 2009
Hundreds turn out to honor fallen Marine

By John Boyle

On a painfully cold day, hundreds of Henderson County residents came out Thursday to complete an equally bitter task: the burial of 19-year-old Marine Jessie Adam Cassada.

Cassada, a 2007 graduate of East Henderson High School, died in combat in Afghanistan on Jan. 6.

More than 400 mourners attended the visitation and memorial service at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Flat Rock, and hundreds more lined the funeral procession route from the church to Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Dana area.

There, scores of people braved bitter temperatures and biting winds as a Marine Corps honor guard carried Cassada's flag-draped casket to the gravesite.

A trumpeter played Taps and an Army color guard fired a 21-gun salute. Two of the Marines, wearing their dress blue uniforms and white gloves, meticulously folded the flag and handed it to another Marine. He carefully inspected it before presenting it to Cassada's parents, Carroll London and Patricia Cassada.

Friends said Cassada always wanted to be a Marine and loved the service. A close friend, Chastity Rector, spoke during the church service, describing Cassada as stubborn and lovable, a brave and fearless guy who was “a little on the cocky side” — but a guy everyone liked.

“He always wanted to make everyone proud of him, especially his mom and Carroll,” Rector said, fighting back tears. “As we can tell, he's made us all proud to be involved in his life here on Earth. I know we will be able to see him again because he's in his place in heaven.”

The Rev. Phillip Capell, speaking at the church service, stressed that Cassada has found eternal life because at age 13 he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.

“We wanted for Jessie to come home, but really he has gone home — to the greatest home that you can ever imagine,” Capell said. “He's in the presence of God today.”

Pfc. Tyler Goode, a friend of Cassada's and a fellow Marine, described Cassada as “just a great guy to be around” and a man who was doing exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

Goode, a 21-year-old graduate of West Henderson High School, said Cassada was killed in combat by enemy fire.

“He was just doing his job,” Goode said.

Cassada joined the Marines the August after graduating and was stationed at Camp Lejeune. He shipped out to Afghanistan the first week of November.

“He was a very bold person, the kind of person who said what was on his mind,” Justin Hoots, an East Henderson classmate, said at the church. “And he stayed true to his friends. He was very true and loyal. He was a good person.”

In downtown Hendersonville, those lining the procession route said their small gesture was the least they could do.

“I do this every time one of our soldiers falls, and every time it gets harder,” said J.A. Huntsinger, a retired Army Special Forces sergeant.

Next to him, Jill Sigmon braved the cold as she waited for the hearse to pass. She has a granddaughter in the Air Force and felt that a few minutes of her time honoring a fallen Marine was time soundly spent.

“It's like he belonged to all of us,” she said.

Ellie