Marine war casualty to be buried on the Shore

Mardela Springs man killed in helicopter crash in Afghanistan

January 25, 2002|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

MARDELA SPRINGS -- Maryland's first casualty of the war in Afghanistan was returned to the Eastern Shore yesterday as his family and friends made plans for the biggest funeral this tiny Wicomico County town has ever seen -- a spectacle his mother says Marine Staff. Sgt. Walter F. Cohee III would have loved.

"He was always such a ham. I know he'd be thrilled with all this attention," said Jeanne Cohee. "It's been a little frustrating not knowing when they'd bring him home."

Cohee's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base about 6 p.m. yesterday from Ramstein, Germany, said Lt. Olivia Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Delaware base that houses the Defense Department's largest mortuary.

Cohee, 26, an aviation technician, was one of two Marines killed Sunday when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed. They were flying a resupply mission in a mountainous region about 40 miles south of Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Also killed in the crash, which officials think was caused by a mechanical failure, was Sgt. Dwight J. Morgan, 24, of Mendocino, Calif. Five others aboard the craft were injured.

Yesterday, in his hometown, where everyone knew Cohee as "Trae," miniature American flags fluttered from every utility pole in the community of 360.

Flags at the one-room Town Hall and at the volunteer fire company -- where Cohee, his brother Kris and their parents, Walter and Jeanne Cohee, have served for years -- flew at half-staff.

Family members agreed that the fire station was the most appropriate place for the funeral, and probably the only building in town that could accommodate the number of mourners expected.

A viewing is scheduled at the fire station from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, followed by the funeral. Cohee will be buried with military honors in the family plot at the East New Market Cemetery in Dorchester County, said Coralee Powell, Cohee's aunt.

After the funeral, the aunt said, family members plan to fly to California for a memorial service Wednesday at the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar, where Cohee and Morgan were based.

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