« Firefight shows challenge for U.S. | Main | Marines Train To Conquer Taliban, Their Own Fears »

Iredell soldier laid to rest

Family, friends, and military personnel gathered in New Prospect Baptist Church to say farewell to a young man taken too early.

http://www2.statesville.com/content/2009/jun/22/iredell-soldier-laid-rest/

By Chyna Broadnax | Statesville R&L
Published: June 22, 2009

Lance Cpl. Johnathan Dale Mitchell Sharpe, 19, of Statesville, was laid to rest Sunday at his home church. He was killed during a training accident June 16 at Camp Lejeune.

Saralena Sharpe, Johnathan's grandmother who adopted him at 19 months old, said the past few days have been a time to remember the young man who loved fishing, church, his Lord and Saviour, and Scouting.

"There has been a great joy of remembrance," she said. "With God as our substantial almighty being we have made it through."

Sharpe, who was operating a machine gun on top of a Humvee during a training exercise, died instantly when the vehicle flipped on a gravel road at the military base, according to Sharpe's adoptive father, Roger Sharpe.

Johnathan also leaves behind his birth mother, Amy McDaniel, and a host of family and friends, including the fellow Marines and other military personnel who came in droves to honor one of their own Sunday.

Sharpe, who was a former member of Scout Troop 618, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2008.
He was training at Camp Lejeune and preparing for his deployment to Afghanistan.

Joining the Marines was a goal Johnathan set for himself at a young age.

"From the time he could walk, he wanted to fight for his country because it needed him as its defender," Saralena Sharpe said. "Everybody said Marines was the hardest to join, but he did it."

Roger Sharpe said he and his wife found out about the accident Tuesday when two uniformed officers came to their home.

"I knew what happened before I even opened the door to let them in," he said. "I felt the world come to an end."

During Sunday's celebration of life service before the funeral, a crowd of people lined the walls of the small church and extended to the entrance.

Speakers during the ceremony included Dwight Dowell, Mark Robinette, Joey Campbell and Mike Hyde.
As the service concluded, Sharpe's fellow Marines carried his casket, draped with an American flag, to a waiting hearse.

As the vehicle drove slowly to the burial site in the church's cemetery, Marines walked in a procession behind the vehicle.

During the burial ceremony, some 100 military men saluted Sharpe's casket and immediately followed with a 21-gun salute.

As two officers removed the flag from the casket and began to fold it, "Taps" was played by a Marine in the distance.