WESTFIELD - The brotherhood that is the armed forces in the United Stated of America paid its ultimate respects to Sgt. Kevin White of Westfield on Thursday. More than 120 service men and women spanning more than 10 branches and organizations led the processional for the 7 p.m. viewing at the First Baptist Church of Westfield.
"We're paying another honor to Sgt. Kevin White. We'll do a final walkthrough and a ceremonial salute to the soldier, and we'll present certificates and awards to his family," Commander of the Westfield Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Robert McIntosh said prior to the processional. "All of the members here will also give a hand salute and we'll come back out of the church. It's another token of respect for the sacrifice that that young man made."
The servicemen and women who walked from Main Street down Union and into the church proceeded past several homes with American flags hanging in support and recognition of Sgt. White and his family. From Wednesday's gathering along Route 394 to Thursday's viewing services, it was clear the community has come together to play a supportive role during this tragic time.
"I was the guy in the middle of the street. It was absolutely fantastic," McIntosh said of the community turnout Wednesday. "That's probably one of the best things that has happened around here, it's just incredibly unfortunate that the circumstances came about that made this happen. But again, the amount of respect this community has shown for that young man is phenomenal."
Commander of the Westfield American Legion Post 327 James Kaufman, who led the processional Thursday with McIntosh, agreed whole heartedly about the community support.
"I was standing next to the phone company on the south side with all of the color guards and there were people across the street and talking and everything else, but when the first motorcycle came through there was nothing but pride," he said reflecting back on Wednesday's event. "There were hands over hearts, hats down, flags up, not even a child said a word and that is total respect. This community came above and beyond, it was beautiful."
OBSERVER Photos By Michael Rukavina
Community members, friends and family were waiting outside for the military processional to enter the viewing first at 7 p.m.
Commander of the Westfield Post for Veterans of Foreign Wars Robert McIntosh, left, and Westfield American Legion Post 327 Commander James Kaufman, right, lead the processional into the First Baptist Church of Westfield during the second viewing for Sgt. Kevin White.
Organizations who represented the processional Thursday included: The VFW, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, the Vietnam Veterans Association, AMVETS, Sons of the Legion, Auxiliary, all Armed Forces Reservists, National Guard, Active Duty, and even a Drill Sergeant who just came off active duty last week.
"I can't speak for the family officially, but I know in their heart they appreciate it. I appreciate the support the community has shown the funeral home. Kevin was a great man," Scott Mason of Mason Funeral Home, who was in charge of the services, said. "It's the community of Westfield, it's not any one person, it's all of our groups. It's the village, the town, the school, the department of public works, the police department, individuals, the VFW, the American Legion, all of their affiliates, everyone has come together it's just been fantastic."
Kaufman and the American Legion also presented certificates and a Bible to the parents of Sgt. White out of due respect to them.
Westfield Central Schools are closed today due to the expectation that too many staff and/or students will be attending the funeral service.
The Funeral Service will be today at 11 a.m. at the The First Baptist Church of Westfield, with Rev. Thayne Bodenmiller officiating. Burial with full Military Honors will be private in Westfield Cemetery.
Flowers are gratefully declined and Kevin's family wishes memorials be made to Northlake Family Recreation Center, P.O. Box 334, Westfield, NY 14787. For those wishing to sign a community register book, you may do so at the Westfield Village Hall (Eason Hall), 23 Elm St. in Westfield.
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