Most Viewed Stories
Yuba City funeral for Army hero
The military funeral took Susan Johnson's breath away.
Chase Marta's flag-draped casket rested at the front of the room, surrounded by large arrangements of roses and flanked with two photos of the fallen soldier — one staring stoically in dress uniform and another grinning in sunglasses and camouflage hat. The chapel was filled beyond capacity with more than 300 people crowded along the walls, in the hallways and around back rows.
"He would have been beyond honored," Johnson said. "I know he is standing up there very, very proud right now."
Marta, 24, was one of three soldiers killed May 7 in Afghanistan when his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device. The 2006 Yuba City High School graduate was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, headquartered in Fort Bragg, N.C., and assigned to the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
His remains were transferred Wednesday back to his hometown, with thousands of residents lining the streets to honor him as the procession traveled from Beale Air Force Base to Ullrey Memorial Chapel in Yuba City. Loved ones gathered at the chapel once more Friday for a funeral and the bestowing of military honors.
"There is no finer warrior, soldier or fighter than a paratrooper," said Brig. Gen. Charles A. Flynn, of Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Not only did Marta make a decision of honor and dignity by joining the military but also one of sacrifice in doing so during a time of war, Flynn said. He sees Marta as a three-time volunteer, by signing up not only for the U.S. Army but volunteering for airborne duty and to be a paratrooper.
"It's very clear to me that Chase in his life made everyone much more rich in their lives. His country and his paratroopers are far richer as well," he said.
Marta was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in action, a Bronze Star for meritorious service, an Army Good Conduct Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terror Service Ribbon, an Overseas Service Ribbon, a NATO Medal and a Combat Infantryman Badge.
His mother, Karyn Stone Marta, was presented with a Gold Star Banner by the Tri-Counties Blue Star Moms, to signify the loss of a child in service to the country.
"The comfort that I have and my family, is we loved Chase and Chase loved us," Stone Marta said. "I don't have any regrets about not saying it enough. We said it daily."
She may have been upset about his desire to go into the Army, she said, but once his choice was finalized, she became a proud supporter.
Marta recently had been promoted from private first-class to specialist and is remembered by his friends and family as being happy-go-lucky, having a great sense of humor and a love of cooking, martial arts and military history.
As the casket was carried outside, Marta's mother and father held hands and his sister bowed her head in tears.
An Army chaplain offered a prayer, and then a three-volley salute was fired, followed by a bugler playing taps. The pallbearers then returned to the casket, picked up its flag covering and tightly folded it into a triangle.
The folded flag and Chase Marta's dog tags were handed to his mother, another flag to his father, Larry Marta, and one to his sister, Taylor Marta.
"Success in life is not measured by how long we live but how we live in the time that we are given," said Pastor Wayne Vincent. "Chase's has been a beautiful life, a life dedicated to something other than himself ... In his sacrifice we all have gained a hero and a model for living and giving ourselves for the good of others."
Johnson, who had known Chase Marta since he was 11 years old, held a wooden plaque in her arms that someone engraved with the fallen soldier's rank, name and the phrase, "So others may live." It was a gift for the Marta family from a stranger.
"That's the joy of this community," Johnson said. "You never know whose lives you touch. It makes you proud to be an American."
CONTACT Ashley Gebb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4783. Find her on Facebook at /ADagebb or on Twitter at @ADagebb.