Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CW2 Vernon Hunter, U. S. Army (Ret.)

Vernon Hunter died on February 18, 2010 in Austin, Texas, at the age of 67.  He was murdered, at his work place, when a suicidal killer crashed a small private aircraft into the office building where Vernon was employed as a group manager for the Internal Revenue Service.  He was the sole employee of the building who died in the ensuing conflagration.

Vernon grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, graduated from Orangeburg Wilkinson High School, in 1959, and immediately entered the United States Army.  His service of over 20 years took him to Korea, and to two tours of duty in Vietnam.  He retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 2. 

Vernon went to work for the Internal Revenue Service in El Paso, and then in Austin, Texas.  He had over 27 years of service with the IRS, and was only three years from having 50 years of federal service.

Vernon was a loving and devoted spouse to his wife, Valerie, also an employee of the IRS.  He served his church, the Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church, as an usher.  He enjoyed Rudy’s barbecue and rooting for the Washington Redskin.  His pastor remembers him as being a man “who was genuinely kind.”  “He was always smiling, always wanted to help, and would go way out of his way just to help.”

Funeral services were held on February 26 at the St. James Missionary Baptist Church, a venue large enough to accommodate the over 2000 attendees. 

As the mourners arrived at the church they were welcomed by a line of American flags along the street, held aloft by dozens of Patriot Guard Riders in honor of a fallen veteran and comrade.

After the services, a funeral procession, including four buses, several limousines and over 50 Patriot Guard Riders, traveled to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, Texas for final interment services and the rendering of full military honors.

At the cemetery, the flag draped casket was transferred from the hearse to a horse drawn hearse.  The horses slowly carried Vernon on the final leg of his last journey,  delivering him to the committal shelter.  The road to the shelter was lined by 50 American flags and scores of Patriot Guard Riders.  Vernon’s family and dear friends watched as the hearse stopped, and the casket was removed and carried into the shelter by the United States Army Honor Guard.

Final services were held and formal military honors were rendered.  A rifle detail fired three volleys of fire, representing Honor, Duty and Country.  Taps was played by the Army bugler.  The flag covering the casket was then folded into a tight triangle and presented to Vernon’s wife on behalf of the United States Army and a grateful country.

Vernon Hunter was then laid to rest on the gentle slope of the cemetery as the American flag flew at half-staff, in his honor, on the hill above.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, three children, seven grandchildren, one great-grandchild, three step-children and many other dear family and friends.

Vernon’s personal philosophy:  “If I can help somebody, as I go along this way, then my living shall not be in vain.”

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With thanks to the Austin American-Statesman, Cook-Walden Funeral Home, and The TandD.com for biographical and historical information.

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