Skip to comments.Spring Grove [PA] soldier laid to rest
Posted on 07/21/2012 8:45:59 PM PDT by lightman
Spring Grove soldier laid to rest
Hundreds attend services for the fallen soldier on Saturday.
By TIM STONESIFER For the Daily Record/Sunday News
ork, PA -
In the silence, you could hear the fabric rub together as the flag was folded at last into a triangle.
There, on a hillside near Spring Grove, a soldier pressed it with white gloves hard to his chest, then raised a hand in salute, motionless. A church bell tolled, a butterfly arced quietly over rows of tombstones, and more than 300 American flags stirred in the breeze along a rutted road.
The first crack of a rifle volley told of a soldier.
Spc. Cameron Stambaugh was laid to rest in the cemetery at Trinity Roth UCC on Saturday, after a funeral service in Abbottstown and in front of hundreds of family members, friends and veterans. Stambaugh was killed with six other American soldiers in Afghanistan on July 8. They were victims of a roadside bomb.
He was a Spring Grove Area High School graduate and military policeman posthumously promoted and awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
He was 20 years old.
"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust," Pastor Don Wolabaugh intoned, standing beside the soldier's grave, "as we wait for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
* * *
aturday began for mourners at Harvest Chapel in Abbottstown, where more than 400 people gathered to remember a young man who was quiet and shy, yet quick with a joke for those he loved.
Carlie Musselman recalled meeting Cameron and picking on him in high school. She would call his name in the hall, just to see his face turn red again.
A friendship grew there, and after graduation the two spent time together with friends. Cameron always had an energy drink, Carlie said, and he liked to tease her about how she threw a football. He was known to cheat a little at Monopoly, too, she said.
"He was so funny, always picking on me," the 18-year-old said, her voice wavering. "And I just took everything we did together for granted."
Cameron knew from a young age what he wanted to do, said friend Martin Eichelberger. Cameron had a camouflage outfit as a kid and the two would walk down the road to the corner store in Menges Mills, Eichelberger said.
They'd buy caps guns and maybe some beef jerky and yes, they even got in trouble -- just a little -- every once in a while, Eichelberger said.
"But Cameron was always there with you," he said. "Right there beside you.
"I just want to remember him like that."
* * *
he man in the Vietnam veteran hat and torn jeans grunted an earnest apology.
This was the Friday before they came, the friends and family, the honor guard and others who said they had to be there. It was a gray afternoon near Spring Grove and a warm summer rain drummed across soybean plants in the field.
Dick Stambaugh looked out over the tombstones.
That day there was only a 66-year-old caretaker with a small house behind the cemetery, a place where photos of helicopters and rice paddies hang in the living room, there above a worn pair of boots and a holstered sidearm.
A man who had just finished mowing and trimming, and then placed 300 American flags around that little church on a hill. The second-cousin of Spc. Cameron Stambaugh.
"I know, this don't look real military-like," he said, brushing away the grass clippings. "But I'll clean up."
* * *
Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo stepped in a crisp uniform to the podium in Abbottstown, representing the chief of staff of the U.S. Army and the president of the United States.
Stambaugh was awarded the NATO Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Family members received a Gold Star, for a loved on lost while serving his country.
The general said in the face of a call to service -- staring down a job to be done -- Cameron Stambaugh stepped forward. He spoke up, the general said.
"This I will defend," Stambaugh had said. "Send me."
Cameron's father, Mitchell Stambaugh, wiped another tear.
* * *
Pamela Smith had a thousand old stories to tell.
Cameron's mother can remember the pint-sized Army outfits she put under the Christmas tree, and the Mother's Day presents, and so much more. Of course she can.
But on Saturday, as she walked to the front of the church in Abbottstown, the Hanover woman chose a more recent story.
Cameron always had a sweet tooth, she explained. But that can be tough when you're in-country in Afghanistan, and her son told her as much.
Cameron told her, too, of a city not far from where he was stationed. There, the young man explained, they would give away candy, and he was all too willing to go, snatching up what he could for a sweet taste of home.
n time, though, Cameron noticed a 4-year-old Afghan girl, always waiting there nearby. And somewhere along the way, he stopped eating so many sweet treats.
He'd give his candy to that little girl.
"He was becoming a man," Cameron's mother said.
* * *
The sound of Taps spilled down the hill and out toward rolling fields of corn, a dozen doves just released floated across a gray sky.
The tower bell tolled again.
It was struck by Dick Stambaugh, clad in Air Force fatigues that bore the crests of a military policeman. He finished the job, then stood with hands clasped behind his back.
Across the cemetery, a mother leaned forward to receive the soft words that come with a folded American flag.
"Thank you," she whispered.
With a final salute then, the honor guard made its way back up the hill. Friends and family followed, back to their lives but not without one more look, another embrace.
And not without the charge that we never again think of those soldiers in the news as numbers.
"This boy is a fallen soldier," Dick Stambaugh said. "He was some boy, too."
The cemetery caretaker explained that's why he'd be staying into the evening Saturday. And that's why there was no backhoe by the grave.
Once everyone had their good-byes, the 66-year-old said, then he would roll up the sleeves of his fatigues. He'd grab a shovel, maybe recruit some buddies, but would stay all night if needed.
And he'd cover that soldier's casket himself.
Jacob Smith holds out a flag as he and others show their respect for Private First Class Cameron Stambaugh as his body is brought into Trinity Roth U.C.C. Cemetary in Spring Grove on Saturday,
Proud and thankful to call this greater community home.
Haven’t traced the genealogy but Cameron was probably a 6th or 7th cousin.
I hope that picture goes viral.
Welcome home brother.
July 12th 2012....0300hrs....Dover Air Force Base.
God bless Cameron for his willingness to defend our freedom, and comfort his grieving family and friends. You will not be forgotten, PFC Stambaugh.
Rest in peace, PFC Stambaugh. Condolences to you, lightman. You have reason to be proud.
If you want on/off the PA Ping List, please freepmail me. Thanks!
Wonderful Tribute to a Wonderful Young Man. Mrs. easternsky
He was 9 years old on 9-11-01.
That has put Me deep in thought.
May he RIP
RIP and welcome home, Soldier.