MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Corporal Scott Dimond used to take part in military funerals almost every day. He was a member of the New Hampshire honor guard. Tomorrow, Dimond's honor guard will help bury him. He was killed on October 13th after his vehicle hit an explosive device in Afghanistan. New Hampshire Public Radio's Dan Gorenstein sent us this story.
DAN GORENSTEIN: Command Sgt. Major Kandy Fredette remembers one particular funeral service last winter.
KANDY FREDETTE: We were complaining because some of us didn't have long johns on and it was too darn cold. Our feet were freezing and you know, it's like I wish the hearse would hurry up and get here.
GORENSTEIN: Cpl. Scott Dimond was standing there, shivering along side Fredette. He was 38 then, married with four kids. Collecting a pension after nearly 20 years as a cop, he didn't need to be out there. But since high school, Dimond had always wanted to be a military man. And in just a few weeks time, he was off to war.
FREDETTE: He knew he's going to Afghanistan and he was proud to be able to go over there and serve his country.
GORENSTEIN: Grumbling about cold toes became a more serious conversation as Dimond and Fredette waited. Dimond imagined he was in the back of the hearse. He told Fredette, if I die, I want to be taken care of the way I take care of people.
FREDETTE: You never think that when you're talking about stuff like that. Your just hoping it's not you. And then the hearse comes down and then we just started the mission.
GORENSTEIN: People who knew Cpl. Dimond say he treasured his short stint on the honor guard. The demands of the job suited him. A stickler for detail, he liked to practice folding the flag into a blue triangle, working the corners to conceal any red fabric. He kept his uniform, a saucer hat, navy blue jacket, royal blue pants in immaculate condition. But his mother, Marie Generee(ph), says that's not what he liked best.
MARIE GENEREE: He always did jobs that pertain to taking care of people, helping people. It made him feel good to do that.
GORENSTEIN: But Generee says sometimes, the work got to him.
GENEREE: He told me he would get a flash of his brother, you know, going to his brother's funeral.
GORENSTEIN: When Scott was 18, he's 19-year-old, Luke, drowned in a swimming accident. Generee says she encouraged Scott to stay positive and support the people who needed him in a moment of crisis. She feels he adopted that attitude on the honor guard. But now with Scott gone, whatever she had built to hold back the pain of losing a child is broken.
GENEREE: The hurt is still there that I can't hold him and give him a hug and tell him I love him. And now, I can't - I can't do this with my other son still Scott. I can't say goodbye.
Unidentified Man: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
GORENSTEIN: Honor guard members are standing over a mocked grave site complete with metal casket and fake grass mats. They're trying to nail the pacing that's needed to effortlessly fold the flag with six people.
(SOUNDBITE OF HONOR GUARD MEMBERS' CONVERSATION)
GORENSTEIN: Members of the honor guard know they can't ease the pain Dimond's family feels, but they can respect Scott's wish to be buried with full military honors - the 21 gun salute, a color guard, taps, the whole bit - that's why they've put so much time into practice. Sgt. Major Kandy Fredette will present the flag to Dimond's wife on Saturday.
FREDETTE: This flag is being presented on behalf of a grateful nation and expression of appreciation for an honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one. Those are going to be the hardest words I have to say on Saturday to his wife. I know Scott is going to be up there watching us and we're going to keep it all in and we'll get through it.
GORENSTEIN: Just the way Cpl. Scott Dimond would have wanted it. For NPR News, I'm Dan Gornstein in Conker(ph), New Hampshire.
NORRIS: You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.
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