Friday, June 25, 2010

First Lt. Joel Gentz Funeral

Gentz Funeral 01

Judy Gentz bows her head as she holds the flag of her son First Lt. Joel Gentz while standing with his wife Kathryn during the funeral Thursday afternoon outside of St. United Church of Christ. Gentz was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on June 9.

Gentz Funeral 06

Pallbearers carry the casket of First Lt. Joel Gentz from St. Paul United Church of Christ after Gentz's funeral service on Thursday afternoon.

Gentz Funeral 07

Chelsea resident Mike Dewaele, 56, waits with flag in hand outside of Thursday morning at St. Paul United Church of Christ. "Soldiers don't start wars, they just do the jobs politicians send them to do," he said. "It's tragic and an unfortunate necessity. My thoughts are with the family and I thank Joel Gentz for his commitment to this fine country."

Gentz Funeral 05

Darrell Sherwood buries his head into his hand as he listens to the funeral service for First Lt. Joel Gentz on Thursday afternoon at St. Paul United Church of Christ after Gentz's funeral service on Thursday afternoon. "He gave his life for all of us to live in freedom," he said. "It's a crying shame more people don't take the time to honor him and others who serve this country."

Gentz Funeral 02

A pair of riflemen shoot off rounds in honor of First Lt. Joel Gentz on Thursday afternoon outside of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Chelsea.

Gentz Funeral 08

Westland resident Dan Newton of the American Legion Riders prays as he solemnly salutes fallen pararescueman Joel Gentz outside of St. Paul United Church of Christ after Gentz's funeral service on Thursday afternoon. "It's very important we don't forget what he has done for this community," he said. "It's his service that gives us our opportunity to have a life. It's truly on honor to be here to show my respects."

Gentz Funeral 04

Jenny Bollinger of Chelsea and her one-year-old son Brendon watch the funeral procession and hearse pass by on E. Middle Street on Thursday morning as they pay their respects to fallen pararescueman First Lt. Joel Gentz. "We have a lot of family in the military, and thankfully my husband served and came back alive and well," she said. "We just want to show our respects and thank him."

Gentz Funeral 09

Nicole Borner, First Lt. Joel Gentz's cousin, embraces Bev Brecker outside of St. Paul United Church of Christ after Gentz's funeral service on Thursday afternoon.

Gentz Funeral 10

Manchester resident Harry Pendergrass of the Chelsea VFW stands somberly as he holds flags Thursday morning on East Middle Street in Chelsea for the funeral procession of First Lt. Joel Gentz. "It's an honor. Our motto is to honor the dead by serving the living," he said. "The family gets our full support."

I was given the opportunity to cover the funeral of a fallen soldier with fellow Citizen Patriot photojournalist Nick Dentamaro. It was quite the morning. My heart is with the family and friends who knew First Lt. Joel Gentz.

We combined efforts, along with Cit Pat reporter Aaron Aupperlee on audio, to make a multimedia piece as well. Click here to view the multimedia piece.