|From Bradenton Florida Bradenton Herald
North to get military funeral
Manatee soldier's services scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday
By RICHARD DYMOND
LAKEWOOD RANCH --
Lakewood Ranch High School graduate U.S. Army Spc. Christopher M. North, killed in Iraq, is scheduled to receive a full military funeral at 2 p.m. Sunday at Concordia Lutheran Church in Sarasota.
North died three months into his first tour of duty when his vehicle came under small arms and improvised explosive device attack Saturday.
He was posthumously promoted from private first class to specialist on Tuesday, said U.S. Army Maj. Corteney Callis, a member of the U.S. Army 53rd Infantry Brigade stationed in Pinellas Park.
Concordia Lutheran, at 2185 Wood St. in Sarasota, just north of Bahia Vista, is North's home church, where he was baptized and spent much of his formative years, his father, Mark North of River Club, said Wednesday.
The half-hour funeral service for the 2003 Lakewood Ranch High school graduate will be steeped in military tradition, Callis said.
A U.S. Army honor guard from Florida will act as pallbearers, carrying the flag-draped silver steel casket containing North's body from the hearse into the church, Callis said.
The guard also will escort the family members to their places.
Two sets of American flags will be folded during the ceremony at Sarasota Memorial Park, immediately after the funeral service, and handed to North's family, Callis said.
Callis didn't know North, but has come to know him.
"Everyone liked Chris," Callis said. "He was fun and full of energy."
Callis also arranged for The Patriot Guard also to be in attendance.
"It's a motorcycle group that protects the family and the proceedings from protesters or anything like that," North said.
During the private graveside service at Sarasota Memorial Park, a team of soldiers will fire a rifle volley, which is not to be confused with a 21-gun salute.
"Only one person can receive a 21-gun salute, which is a president who dies," Callis said.
North's body arrived Wednesday in Dover, Del., and will be flown Friday by military jet to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport at a still undetermined time, Callis said.
Police and a U.S. Army honor guard will be at the airport when the casket arrives, Callis said.
Sometime today in Iraq, North's squadron will hold a service and videotape it for the North family.
North said the outpouring of love from the Sarasota and Manatee County communities has been phenomenal.
"Chris must have four million friends," North said. "We've gotten cards, letters, text messages, every form of communication that the kids could have in their hands. Oh, and tons of flowers. No stuffed animals yet, but they will probably be coming."
North said he hasn't yet been able to dig into the mail.
"I open them and then lay them on the table," North said.
The U.S. Army's help has made the funeral arrangements for a 21-year-old bearable, North said.
"Just to have the guidance to get through the stuff you never thought about doing," North said. "I've never gone through this and they have the expertise. Major Callis is the point man for all of this."
The Rev. Stephen Gaulke, the pastor of the church, will officiate, North said.
The family, including Christopher's sister, Blair, 10, and brother, Dalton, 14, and mom, Cheryl Riedler, are doing about as well as can be expected, North said.
"Everyone has emotional waves," North said. "It comes and goes."