(photo: Aaron Rhoads | Enterprise-Journal)

By Timothy Woerner | Enterprise-Journal
Posted: 05/09/08 – 11:11:10 am CDT

The body of Marine Lance Cpl. Casey Casanova arrived Thursday in Mississippi, carried in a plane that landed at McComb-Pike County Airport in Fernwood, where mourners held an informal, solemn ceremony marking her homecoming.

Casanova, 22, was one of four U.S. Marines killed Friday in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq, where she was serving her first tour of duty.

Also killed were Cpl. Miguel A. Guzman, 21, Norwalk, Calif., Lance Cpl. James F. Kimple, 21, Carroll, Ohio and Sgt. Glen E. Martinez, 31, Boulder, Colo.

They all were assigned to the Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., in which Casanova served as a radio technician.

Visitation for Casanova is 1 p.m. Saturday at New Heights Baptist Church in Summit until services there at 3, followed by graveside services with full military honors at Adams United Methodist Church in the Auburn community.

A crowd of about 300 people, including local officials and many relatives and close friends, waited for Casanova at the airport. Two lines of cars were parked down the road to the airport — one with a bright red Marine flag mounted from its roof.

The ceremony itself was entirely silent. Marines carried Casanova’s flag-draped casket from the plane to a hearse, family members approached to pay their respects and Patriot Guard riders and city vehicles led a caravan from the airport to the Hartman-Sharkey Funeral Home in McComb.

Yellow and black ribbons marked the procession’s path, and people took time from their jobs and school to line the streets and wave American flags.

Privately, friends shared memories at the airport.

“She was my best friend,” said Kelly McKinney, who met Casanova in grade school at North Pike, and the two remained friends. “Nobody could ever compare to her. She was always there. … Pretty much ever since we met, we were inseparable.”

Casanova has been described as a woman who turned to the military with a desire to make something of herself, telling her mother the career brought meaning to her life.

McKinney said that when Casanova joined the Marines, it was a shock.

“She was always a girly girl, she wasn’t ever the strong type,” McKinney said. “I supported her 100 percent because I knew she wanted to get out of this town and do something. It made her strong. She went from being a girl who would not stand up for herself to strong-minded and strong-willed. She had more of an independence.”

McKinney said Casanova was selfless as a friend, too.

“She was at my baby’s shower. She would come home and not want to talk about her; she wasn’t concerned about herself, she wanted to know how everybody else was doing.”

3 Responses

  1. Condolences to her family. And a big Thank You to Casey for your service. Thank God for people like you.

  2. God Bless her, her family, and friends.
    I can’t imagine their grief, and can only hope that the pride she was able to make them feel, can be a comfort.

  3. Just damn.

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