Marines were welcomed in Eagle | VailDaily.com

Marines were welcomed in Eagle

Kathy Heicher

Kathy Heicher/EnterpriseFrom left to right: Marine Cpl. Joshua Tucker, Staff Sgt. Rick Teehee, Eagle Fire Chief Jon Asper, Staff Sgt. Vidal Morales and Gypsum Fire Chief Dave Vroman.

EAGLE – The Marines who came to Eagle last month ago had an honorable, but heartbreaking mission. They were here to escort the coffin of fallen Marine Cpl. Evenor Herrera, a 22-year-old Gypsum resident, back to his home, and act as an honor guard until his body was laid in his grave at the Eagle cemetery.It was a task the Marine platoon has performed before. Staff Sgt. Rick Teehee said the honor guards always receive a certain amount of support from the local community. But they were amazed by the level of support they found in the Eagle Valley, he said.

The State Patrol, along with fire departments in Vail, Eagle River, Greater Eagle and Gypsum escorted for the hearse bearing Herrera from the top of Vail Pass to the funeral home in Glenwood Springs.Then, when the body was returned to Eagle for an all-night vigil, the Marines took turns standing next to the coffin in one-hour shifts.Eagle Fire Chief Jon Asper let the Marines sleep in the bunks at Eagle’s firehouse. He then rustled up a vehicle for the soldiers to use while driving back and forth from the church. Eagle firefighters got the Marines had hot meals and cold drinks.”They treated us like kings … that level of support was unexpected,” Teehee said. “It really means a lot to us. We don’t see it all the time.”

The Marines did some talking on the return trip home, and decided they wanted to come back to Eagle. They did that this week, bringing with them a plaque thanking the local community for its support. The Marines handed over the plaque in a brief ceremony on Tuesday at the Eagle Fire House.”We were really impressed with your support and patriotism,” Teehee told a small group of Gypsum and Eagle firefighters gathered for the occasion. “It meant a lot to me and to my Marines to be treated like we were. We wanted to make sure it didn’t go unnoticed.”Asper credited all of the local agencies that helped with Herrera’s burial. “It was a good partnership between the Marine Corps, the towns, the State Patrol and the fire departments,” Asper said. “What a great bunch of guys.”

Teehee and his fellow marines, Cpl. Joshua Tucker and Staff Sgt. Vidal Morales, said bringing fallen comrades home is a difficult task.”It is a hard job, but it is an honor,” said Teehee. “It is something we owe the Marine.”Vail, Colorado