Spc. Barron Remembered As "A Great Hero"

On his final ride through his hometown, Gulfport's fire department blocked intersections -- it's way of saluting a soldier who just died in Iraq. Closer to the National Cemetery, Biloxi daycare center employees stood at attention when the funeral procession rolled past them.

Bryan Barron would have turned 27 next week. Instead of celebrating his birthday, teary eyed family members mourned his death.

"Today we mark the passing of Bryan Edward Barron," Mississippi Adjutant General Harold Cross said, moments after an honor guard escorted Specialist Barron's flag draped casket into Pass Road Baptist Church.

"We ask in the name of you, oh Lord. And we thank you for the great service of our great hero, Specialist Bryan Edward Barron," the Major General said.

Cross spoke to mourners on behalf of a grieving state. He described Barron a "a loving father, a loving husband, a cherished son, a brother, and a great community citizen."

The general had a very simple message for the Barron family.

"They had a hero in their midst, in their family, that was willing to sacrifice his life for their freedom," he said.

Because of that sacrifice, Gen. Cross posthumously presented the 26-year-old specialist three medals.

"We're going to bestow on this great warrior, this hero of our state and our country, some of the nation's most prestigious awards," Cross said.

Those awards were the Mississippi Medal of Valor, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.

"My goodness. The Bronze Star," exclaimed Rev. Keith Thrash.

Right after the family showed a video featuring Specialist Barron in the Iraqi war zone, the reverend shared a few family stories about Barron, his 155th unit, and its mission in Iraq.

Barron told family he wanted to be in Iraq, "because of freedom. Everybody deserves to be free," Thrash said, recounting a talk Barron had with a brother. "And I'm here because I want them to experience the same freedom I have."

Specialist Barron died on May 23rd. He was one of four bomb blast victims from the same National Guard unit.

At the Biloxi National Cemetery, Barron received a 21 gun salute. His wife received the flag that had been draped over the casket. His mother, and his oldest daughter also received flags.

The prayers at the burial were similar to the thoughts expressed by Gen. Cross back at the church.

"May God bless this great soldier and his family. And may God forever bless the United States of America and the precious liberties he fought to protect," he said.