Spc. Kaiser Laid To Rest in Hometown
By Frank Rizzo
NARROWSBURG March 30, 2007 Amid the religious and military allusions at Tuesday’s funeral of Specialist Anthony Kaiser, the words from the Gospel of John (15:13) weren’t invoked, but they were apropos:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Love. Honor. Duty.
The virtues that made Spc. Kaiser of Narrowsburg a great soldier were in the end the ones that led to his untimely death at the hands of insurgents in Iraq on March 17.
Several hundred family, friends and community residents gathered for Kaiser’ funeral at St. Francis Xavier’s Roman Catholic Church in Narrowsburg a church where he had once been an altar boy and subsequent burial in nearby St. Francis Cemetery.
As speaker after speaker rose in church to give testimonials of Kaiser’s life and death, endowing both with meaning and nobility, a picture emerged of a classic definition of a hero an ordinary man doing extraordinary things.
In describing Kaiser’s actions on the day of his death, Brigadier General Rodney L. Johnson told the audience that Anthony an MP assigned to the 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade saved the lives of his comrades. He was the first to spot and fire on the insurgents, according to evidence relayed by Johnson.
For his actions, Kaiser was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with V (for Valor) device, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
“Each of us will be judged by the way we have lived,” said Father William Scully in his homily, going on to give a disquisition on the ways of eternal judgement.
“God looked at Anthony’s heart and instinctively knew how big, how giving that heart was… Anthony’s heart was bursting with love,” Father Scully said.
“Anthony was there for others, he was there for you and for me,” he went on. “He believed in us and he wanted to preserve the things we believed in… He gave his life so others could live. He had the heart of a soldier, the heart of a friend.”
“He’s alive in our hearts, he’s not merely a memory but part and parcel of everyone here,” Father Scully said.
Father Scully made note that Anthony’s death came on Saint Patrick’s Day, and how that holiday would henceforth have extra meanings for Anthony’s family and friends.
He ended his sermon with the old Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Kaiser’s wife, Heather, whom he met when both worked at the Honesdale Wal-Mart, was too distraught to read her goodbye letter to her husband, so a friend stood in her stead.
“From the moment I met Anthony I fell in love with him,” she wrote. “Anthony changed my life… He told me that love is unconditional.”
She revealed one endearing personal habit: “Anthony made sure to always kiss me before leaving the house even if it was only to take out the garbage.”
Kaiser’s former platoon leader, 1st Lieutenant Alyssa M. Briones, gave a tearful salute to a soldier she both commanded and befriended.
“As a friend, I stand here knowing that the world lost a beautiful person,” she said. “As a leader, I stand here knowing that the army lost a great soldier… He took responsibility for everything he did and never complained.”
Briones illuminated the relationship Anthony had with his wife: “Every chance he got, he went to the phone to call Heather, and he would always have a smile after talking to her… and whenever someone asked about her, his eyes lit up.”
Briones made reference twice to Kaiser’s day and time of passing.
“Seventeenth March 2007, 14:14, one of the saddest days of my life… a day I’ll never forget.”
Looking at the widow, Briones proclaimed, “Heather, as a friend I would take away your pain if I could.”
David Mosiniak of Lakewood, Pa. read from an e-mail Kaiser sent him and his wife, Lorraine just a few weeks before his death.
“Let every one of your friends know you love them, even if you don’t think they love you… You would be amazed at what those three little words and a smile can do. So if God should call me home before I see you again I love you.”
Following the service, a military burial took place up the hill in the nearby cemetery.
Volunteer firemen (Anthony was a member of the Narrowsburg FD), police (including state troopers in which ranks he also served) and soldiers were out in full force.
A contingent from West Point fired their guns in salute and a bugler played “Taps” after which the honor guard reverentially unfolded the flags and Brig. General Johnson presented one each to Anthony’s widow, Heather, father, Andrew, and brother, Staff Sergeant Steve Kaiser.
See more photos from Spc. Kaiser’s funeral in the Tuesday, April 3 edition.
Spc. Kaiser Recalled
By Fred Stabbert III
NARROWSBURG Nearly 300 family, friends, teachers and community members packed into Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church Tuesday morning to celebrate the life of Specialist Anthony Adam Kaiser, 27, who was killed while serving his country in Iraq.
The church is just a stone’s throw away from the school where Kaiser graduated in 1998, and the close-knit relationships which were formed in that school were never more evident than on Tuesday.
Two young men who returned home to support the Kaiser family and pay tribute to Anthony had that Narrowsburg connection which forever bonded them.
SSgt. Joseph Starner grew up in Narrowsburg and remembered riding the bus with Anthony.
“I’ve known him forever,” SSgt. Starner said, dressed in his deep blue Air Force dress uniform. “He was five years younger than I was. Anthony’s brother, Brian, and I were the same age.
“I used to torment Anthony on the bus,” SSgt. Starner reminisced of days gone by.
The funeral mass and tribute to his Narrowsburg brethren really touched home.
“I’ve been through that exact neighborhood where he was killed,” SSgt. Starner said. “I know the exact location. You probably saw me shaking my head when they were reading the letters from Anthony’s commanders.
“It’s not a good spot,” he said.
SSgt. Starner said he has served two tours in Iraq, one as a gunner, just like Specialist Kaiser.
“(Iraq) could be overwhelming at times,” he said.
SSgt. Starner, who is a 1993 alum of Narrowsburg, said he was truly moved to hear how his friend stood tall and protected and saved the rest of his guys in the face of an attack.
“For that, we are all proud,” he said.
Classmate Jared Esselman also attended his friend’s funeral and marched in the honor guard.
Now in the Coast Guard, 1st Class Petty Officer Esselman is now stationed in Boston.
“We grew up right next to each other Brian, Anthony and Steve,” Esselman remembered all three Kaiser brothers.
“We built a bicycle trail through the woods and would ride around like crazy,” he said. “We would also build jumps. It was definitely the best (childhood) memories I had.”
And Esselman, like so many, returned home to Narrowsburg, to the small community by the Delaware River, for Specialist Anthony Kaiser’s funeral.
He was there to remember his friend, to honor a war hero.