Marine Staff Sergeant Jason Rogers was laid to rest last Saturday in the new Brandon cemetery. The combat engineer was killed over a week ago in Afghanistan while getting two badly wounded marines to safety.
His mother, Jenny Smith of Brandon, gave her thoughts on the outpouring of community support.
"I was just proud to be a part of this community. That there was so much show of support for him. It was touching, the love and compassion that everybody had for the military and support for Jason and for what he died for."
You knew these combat engineers were tough as nails, but did it surprise you to see such emotional grief they felt?
"No. It didn't surprise me at all because Marines are so close. I think they feel deeper. They feel stronger toward each other. Their bond. They put their lives on the line every day for each other."
The journey from the funeral home to the church and the procession to the cemetery as thousands of young and old stood out there waving flags.
"It was overwhelming. I guess the best way to describe it was like going into a sea of love, kindness and support. It was just surrounding us. It was like going into the heart of America. I can't describe it any other way. The Marines were overwhelmed. These tough guys who had been through all these battles. They had tears streaming down their faces and silence. In fact, I just got off the phone with one of the Gunny Sergeants before this interview. He told me he had never seen that kind of patriotism and love he could explain. They've never seen that in any other part of the country."
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