GREER, SC — U.S. Army Sgt. Channing "Bo" Hicks was a "second-mile" kind of person, a military chaplain told mourners at Hicks' funeral at Fairview Baptist Church on Wednesday.
Hicks, 24, was killed Nov. 16 when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in Afghanistan.
The chaplain, Col. Steve Shugart of the S.C. National Guard, told the story of Jesus' sermon on the mount, and about when Jesus spoke of how a Roman soldier could compel any Jew to carry his burden.
Shugart said Jesus offended many when he told the people to not only go the first mile, but the second mile as well.
"Bo Hicks was a second-mile person, he was willing to go that second mile," Shugart said. "The second mile is about perseverance."
Shugart said he had learned a lot about Hicks in talking with his family during the past week. His family said Hicks had always wanted to be a soldier, and left for boot camp eight days after his graduation from Greer High School in 2006.
"It started in the bathtub, playing with pieces of plastic," Shugart said. "I've been a soldier a long time, but I don't think I started in the bathtub."
Shugart said he also learned about Hicks' pride in joining the military.
"He knew about having a dream that was more than what you see when you look out the door," said Shugart, who remembered his own grandfather saying that military service was a way to go beyond where one grew up. "(Bo) knew the second-mile principle. His life was spent on things he believed in. His life of service will live with us forever."
The Rev. Wally Winner, pastor of Joy Fellowship Church, said he recalled Hicks' early determination to serve his country, but the terrorist attacks of 9/11 cemented it. He reminded mourners that there is no greater love than a man who lays down his life for his friends.
Winner spoke of Mary Magdalene crying in the tomb of Jesus. Hers was a grief of unwilling separation, of absence, of loneliness and cruel injustice.
"We ask, why this death?" Winner said. "Jesus heard her cry and came to her. Though her eyes did not recognize him, her heart did. Her cry of sorrow turned to a cry of joy. He hears your cry. Listen to the voice of the risen Christ."
In his closing prayer, Winner told mourners to remember how Jesus reached out to touch those who grieved. "Come now and touch this family and these friends so that healing may begin," Winner prayed. "We thank you now for the gifts that you shared with us through Bo's life."
The service began with the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and ended with the patriotic, "God Bless the USA (Proud to be an American)."
With the rumble of the Patriot Guard's motorcycles, and the flash of colorful military banners and the blue lights of police cars leading the procession, mourners drove along Highway 29 from the church to Wood Memorial Garden in Duncan.
The Patriot Guard stood at least 100 strong around the graveside, holding American flags. The family sat under a tent, while friends and other family members gathered silently around. Fire trucks hoisted large American flags above the cemetery.
There was barely a sound until the firing of a three-volley salute, followed by a trumpeter playing Taps. An honor guard folded the flag that had draped across Hicks' casket. Four other folded flags sat on a table in the tent.
Soldiers conducting the graveside honors saluted the folded flags before one soldier placed each flag, one by one, on the casket, saluted and presented them to family Hicks' father, Chan Hicks; his mother, Amy Shaulis; and Hicks' children, Wesley and Delilah Hicks.
The flag that draped the casket, ceremonially folded by the honor guard, was presented to Hicks' grandmother, Kaye "Mimi" Hicks.
Before the flag was presented to her, the soldiers tucked away three shell casings from the volley within its folds.
As each shell casing was placed within the flag, one of the soldiers held it up, and spoke a word it symbolized, words that most would say embodied the young soldier.
"Duty. Honor. Country."