Hundreds attend funeral for N.B. man killed in Iraq
Hundreds of people packed a church in Frederictonon Thursdayfor the funeral service of Sgt. Michael Seeley, a local Mi'kmaq man who died while on patrol with the U.S. army in Iraq.
The pews were full at Our Lady of Fatima Church and dozens of people sat in a basement room to listen to the service over loudspeakers.
Rev.Maurice Swift celebrated the mass and then Capt. Frank Nevin of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council sang a tribute to Seeley.
"I'm here to do the Honour Song for Misaya, who is named Mike, in Mi'kmaq," said Nevin.
Theresa, Seeley's mother, said the service helped her in dealing with the loss of her son.
"The thought that I've lost him is unbearable," she said. "But I will do him proud."
At the cemetery after the service,she hugged the folded U.S. flag she was handed Thursday after it was removed from her son's coffin.
Tucked inside the flag were three spent rifle shells from volleys fired in Seeley's honour during his burial in a cemetery overlooking the Saint John River. The shells stand for duty, honour and country.
"The last shell was for country and I thought to myself there probably should have been two because he had two countries," said Theresa Seeley.
"He is peaceful. He fought for what he believed in. He did what he wanted to do. I'm really proud of him. There's nothing else I can say."
Seeley, 27, was killed in a bomb attack on Oct. 30 while on duty with the U.S. army in Iraq.
Amongaboriginals serving in Iraq
He was among more than a dozen Canadian aboriginal peopleserving with U.S. forces in Iraq.
Seeley was the second Canadian-born soldier to die in Iraq in October, one of the worst months for U.S. military losses since the conflict began in 2003.
Marine Sgt. Jonathan J. Simpson, a dual Canadian and U.S. citizen, was killed in Iraq during combat operations on Oct. 14 and buried in Quebec, where he was born.
Seeley was killed south of Baghdad when a bomb went off near his vehicle.
His mother said military investigators have arrested a woman in connection with the insurgent attack. She said she has been told the woman will stand trial.
"You don't picture a woman doing something like this.
"My image of a woman is of a mother or a sister. How could this woman inflict such suffering on someone?"
Michael Seeley, who graduated from Fredericton High School, served with Canadian reserve forces before crossing to the United States to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
Following his time with the marines, which included service in Iraq and Korea, he signed up with the U.S. army and headed back to Iraq for a second tour of duty.
He was killed just a couple of days before he was due to leave the war-torn country.
Brig.-Gen. Nick Justice of the U.S. army said Seeley's comrades described him as a good soldier who will be missed on the frontlines.
"Most of all, they remember him as a caring leader who always looked out for their welfare of others," Justice said.
"He was a great young man to have in our ranks."
Col. Ryan Jestin, commander of CFB Gagetown, said Seeley was on the minds of the men in his command who are in Afghanistan or will be soon.
"We're going to be sending 2,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in the not-too-distant future. We've got 45 soldiers out there this week. That, plus Remembrance Week, is indicative of why it's important that we're here today."
Jestin admitted it was difficult to attend the funeral knowing thatthe base is sendingtroops into action in Afghanistan.
"We can only pray we don't have to do this sort of thing very often in the New Year," he said.
With files from the Canadian Press