Article published Mar 7, 2008
Marine gets his final honor almost 25 years after service
The Leaf-Chronicle

Twenty-five years after his death, Larry Kenneth Gibbs finally got what he deserved.

Gibbs, who had just turned 49 when he died in 1983, was finally given a three-gun volley and the playing of "Taps" Thursday at his Resthaven Cemetery gravesite, an honor reserved to all members of the military upon their death.

"It means the world to me," said Louise Gibbs, Larry's widow. "I think he would be very proud."

Larry Gibbs had served four years of active duty in the Marines and four years in the Marine Reserves. He also did an 18-month tour-of-duty in the Korean War.

Larry and Elise Gibbs' four children, who are now 40, 42, 45 and 50, were on hand along with friends and other relatives at Resthaven Cemetery as a four-man Marine detail from Nashville performed the ceremony.

In most cases, the ceremony would bring tears and sadness. Not for the Gibbs family.

"I think for us it brings a peace, and I think for him it would, too," said Gloria Gibbs, Larry's youngest daughter. "At a funeral, I think it's a sad thing, but today it was a proud thing."

Gloria Gibbs said when her father died, the Marines didn't have the manpower to perform the ceremony. Ever since her father's death, the lack of proper honors bothered Gloria Gibbs, so she decided to get something done.

She got in touch with the local Marine recruiting station, who put her in touch with Gunnery Sgt. Roger Kraft, who sprung into action. Forty-eight hours later, her father was getting the honor he deserved.

"It means everything," Gloria Gibbs said of the swift response from the Marines.

Larry Gibbs' only son, Larry Gibbs II, also was grateful to the Marine detail for performing the ceremony.

"I think it's wonderful after 25 years that they would come out and they would still do that and show the honor to their fellow man like that," Gibbs II said, who was handed the flag originally draped over his father's casket. "It's a great honor."

Gather Heflin, 71, who was a close friend of Larry Gibbs, was on hand to pay his respects.

Heflin and Larry Gibbs had worked together for the Clarksville Department of Electricity and Tennessee Valley Authority as linemen for 15 or 20 years, Heflin said.

"He was a fine man, real smart, one of the best linemen I ever knew," Heflin said.

Heflin also playfully remarked about how Larry Gibbs was a boxer in the Marines and threw opponents off with his bruising left hand.

Memories aside, Thursday's ceremony was about happiness for the Gibbs family and getting a little closure.

"It's a day of happiness, not sadness," Gibbs II said.

Larry Gibbs' decorations include the Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.