08/15/2006
Marines' grim task silences city
By RORY SCHULER Staff Writer

TAUNTON - Stepping in a somber, rhythmic cadence, six U.S. Marines carried Cpl. Travis John "TJ" Kaemmerer's flag-draped coffin into the O'Keefe-Wade Funeral Home on Monday.

Their black shoes - tapping on the macadam, the sidewalk and then the short staircase leading to the funeral home's main entrance - provided the only noise during the typically hectic and busy rush hour along Washington Street.


Police stopped all traffic. Without incident, drivers stopped and watched silently.


Accompanied by a local and state police motorcade, a black hearse carried the Iraq War veteran's remains to the funeral home, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday.


Kaemmerer, 23, died in a car crash a week ago.


Family and friends stood by Monday, holding each other, most crying.


Police officers and fellow Marines stood at attention, saluting the fallen Taunton man.


Kaemmerer was born in Clayton, Mo., but his mother, Dianne, now lives in a home along Forge Drive. Although he lived most of his life in Taunton, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, for one and a half years and spent seven months in Iraq. Most recently, he was stationed in Quantico, Va.


The U.S. Marine Corps combat correspondent and award-winning writer was the fiancÚ of Ashley Sullivan. He recently won the Department of Defense's "Best New Writer of the year 2004" for a piece called "A Hero's Sacrifice."


After they watched from afar as Kaemmerer survived combat and returned home safely, Sullivan and his family were sent reeling - ripped to emotional shreds by the cruel irony of the last week's events. They stood just off the curb, in the quieted street, holding each upright.


While it was not the homecoming Kaemmerer's loved ones were expecting, police and fellow servicemen helped give the solemn moment its due respect.

rschuler@tauntongazette.com

Ellie