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Honor guard lays to rest Airmen killed in Iraq

The body bearers fold the American flag while the chaplain performs his part of the ceremony. Friends and family attended to show their final respects for Capt. Kermit Evans who was killed Dec. 3 in Iraq. Captain Evans was killed in an emergency helicopter landing near the shore of Lake Qadisiyah in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Captain Evans was one of 16 people aboard the Marine CH-46 helicopter and one of four servicemembers killed as a result of the landing. He is survived by his wife and 13-month-old son, Kermit Jr. Captain Evans was the commander of the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal Flight at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

The body bearers fold the American flag while the chaplain performs his part of the ceremony. Friends and family attended to show their final respects for Capt. Kermit Evans who was killed Dec. 3 in Iraq. Captain Evans was killed in an emergency helicopter landing near the shore of Lake Qadisiyah in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Captain Evans was one of 16 people aboard the Marine CH-46 helicopter and one of four servicemembers killed as a result of the landing. He is survived by his wife and 13-month-old son, Kermit Jr. Captain Evans was the commander of the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal Flight at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Waychoff)

Air Force Honor Guardsmen transfer the casket carrying Maj. Troy Gilbert from the caisson to the grave site during a full honors funeral Dec. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery.  Major Gilbert was the pilot of an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon engaged in support of coalition ground combat operations that crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of Baghdad Nov. 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Francisco G. Hamm)

Air Force Honor Guardsmen transfer the casket carrying Maj. Troy Gilbert from the caisson to the grave site during a full honors funeral Dec. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery. Major Gilbert was the pilot of an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon engaged in support of coalition ground combat operations that crashed approximately 20 miles northwest of Baghdad Nov. 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Francisco G. Hamm)

Chaplain (Capt.) Kenneth Fisher delivers a eulogy for Capt. Kermit Evans during his funeral as the Air Force Honor Guard prepares to fold the American flag Dec. 12 at Arlington National Cemetery. More than 200 friends and relatives gathered to pay their respects to Captain Evans, a member of the 27th Civil Engineering Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal Flight at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. He was deployed to Iraq when the helicopter he was a passenger in made an emergency landing and crashed. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Cohen Young)

Chaplain (Capt.) Kenneth Fisher delivers a eulogy for Capt. Kermit Evans during his funeral as the Air Force Honor Guard prepares to fold the American flag Dec. 12 at Arlington National Cemetery. More than 200 friends and relatives gathered to pay their respects to Captain Evans, a member of the 27th Civil Engineering Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal Flight at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. He was deployed to Iraq when the helicopter he was a passenger in made an emergency landing and crashed. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Cohen Young)

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The tradition of laying to rest one's own carries with it the heavy burden of knowing a fellow Airman and hero has just departed.

While this is the everyday job of ceremonial guardsmen, sometimes a death hits home a little harder and makes a lasting impact on those who take a part in the funeral.

The recent passing of two active-duty Airmen deployed to Iraq and buried this week in Arlington National Cemetery was one of those times. Maj. Troy Gibert, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot killed Nov. 27, and Capt. Kermit Evans, an explosive ordnance disposal flight commander killed Dec. 3, were buried Dec. 11 and 12 respectively by ceremonial guardsmen at the Air Force Honor Guard from Bolling Air Fore Base in Washington, D.C.

"We're in the military and we hear about people who have died, but if you're actually out there rendering final honors to someone -- that's when it really hits home that these people gave up their lives for their country," said 1st Lt. Brent Mundie, officer in charge at the funerals. "They are real, and they have real families who are devastated -- and both of these men left behind young children."

While the majority of the funerals the honor guard carries out are for Air Force retirees, in just this year there have been 35 active duty funerals.

"But that's not to say any one funeral is more important than another," said Airman 1st Class Peter Ising, ceremonial guardsman. "It's an honor to be able to do what we do, but sometimes it's difficult. This was the first funeral I've been a part of where I've actually been close enough to see the family's faces, and it was very emotional. This whole experience made me realize that what I do doesn't begin to compare to what these Airmen did, but if I put in the extra effort I can help the family have the memory of the perfect funeral honoring their loved one."

The funerals were full honors, meaning the Air Force Band ceremonial brass, a 20-person flight, firing party, casket bearers, commander of troops, guidon, color team and officer in charge attended.

In addition, more than 200 family, friends and co-workers were present. Captain Evans was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery, heroism and meritorious service during his service. Airman Ising read the narration presenting the Bronze Star. Captain Evans was the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordinance Flight commander at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. He was killed as a result of a U.S. Marine helicopter emergency water landing near the shore of Lake Qadisiyah in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

Major Gilbert was assigned to the 309th Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., and was deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base, Iraq. He was flying in direct support of coalition ground combat operations when his plane crashed 20 miles northwest of Baghdad.

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