Ohio families mourn deaths of two servicemen

A soldier and a Marine killed in Iraq a few days apart were remembered Monday at separate funeral services in Ohio.

Army Sgt. Bryan W. Large, 31, of Cuyahoga Falls, an Akron suburb, died Oct. 3 during combat along with two other paratroopers in western Iraq, where U.S. troops sought insurgents. The three were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel McVicker, 20, of Alliance, near Canton, was killed Oct. 6 in western Iraq while driving an armored vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb.

He had joined the Marines with 10 classmates after graduating from West Branch High School in Beloit in 2003, said his father, Mark McVicker. He was motivated to serve after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

While at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C., he volunteered several times to go to Iraq, his father said.

About 400 friends and family members crowded an Alliance funeral home Monday to honor McVicker.

Inside the service, soldiers, sailors and Marines in dress uniforms stood next to teenagers wearing high school jackets and listened as speakers celebrated McVicker's life.

Marine Cpl. Ben Fiddler, McVicker's roommate, said his friend was special.

"Having Dan for a friend was a blessing," he said.

Rev. Mitchell Funkhouser, McVicker's pastor at First Brethren Church, spoke about McVicker's faith and their correspondence, which ended with a letter he received just this week.

In his last letter to the pastor, written Aug. 27, McVicker talked about sending the pastor some sand in the mail, and about his role guarding other troops.

"They call us the Guardians," the Marine wrote. "It's a humbling title."

Large was first assigned to the 307th Forward Medical Company of the 82nd in September 2002 and moved to the 504th in January 2004. He leaves two daughters.

Hundreds of residents, many waving American flags, lined streets as Large's flag-draped casket was taken first to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Cuyahoga Falls, then to Stow for burial.

On the altar at Immaculate Heart were two bouquets of red, white and blue flowers with a small American flag in each vase.

"Today is about freedom, sacrifice and heroes. Bryan made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, there is no greater love than to die for another," the Rev. Thomas Woost said in the eulogy.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)