Cherone L. Gunn – Seaman, United States Navy

Courtesy of the Washinton Post

Family Pride Helps Dry Tears
By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday , October 21, 2000

In the end, there never was any question where Seaman Cherone L. Gunn would be buried.

On a beautiful October afternoon, with a salute of rifle volleys ringing in the warm air, the 22-year-old Virginian killed in last week's attack on the USS Cole was laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, where so many thousands who died in the service of their country have gone before.

“That's where he deserves to be,” his brother, Anton Gunn, 27, said after the service. “It's where all national heroes should be.”

Cherone Gunn, a sweet-natured young man who had dreams of being a police officer, was carried in a flag-draped coffin to his grave site by a casket team of six sailors. He was followed by dozens of members of his extended family and by friends, many of whom traveled from Virginia Beach, where the sailor was born and raised.

His father, Louge Gunn, a retired chief petty officer who served 20 years in the Navy, knelt and pressed his forehead against the casket. Then he rose to his feet and, struggling with his emotions, proudly saluted his son.

His mother, Mona Gunn, the principal of Fairlawn Elementary School in Norfolk, wiped away tears.

“I'm very proud,” Anton Gunn said, speaking on behalf of the family. “He made his family proud. He made his country proud.”

At the family's request, Gunn was placed in the cemetery next to a shipmate who was also killed in the apparent terrorist attack on the Cole on October 12, 2000 at a port in Yemen. Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, who lived at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County with his wife and three children, was buried at Arlington earlier in the day at a private service for family and close friends.

Cherone Gunn was born on Valentine's Day 1978, a birthday that his brother said seemed to color his personality. “He was one of the most lovable guys anyone could ever hope to meet,” said Anton Gunn, a graduate student studying in South

Gunn had joined the Navy because he wanted to serve his country and was looking for experience that would help him become a state trooper, according to his brother.

Costelow was sent to serve on the Cole in August. During Wednesday's national memorial service in Norfolk, President Clinton singled out Costelow's earlier service at the White House.

“Richard Costelow was a technology wizard who helped to update the White House communications system for this new century,” Clinton said.

Another victim from Maryland, 19-year-old Seaman Craig Wibberley of Williamsport, will be remembered at a funeral today in Hagerstown. His family held a visitation yesterday evening at St. John's Episcopal Church in Hagerstown.

The Navy announced yesterday that Gunn and Wibberley have been given posthumous promotions from seaman apprentice to seaman. Costelow was promoted from petty officer first class this week.

During yesterday's service for Cherone Gunn, a Navy officer presented Louge and Mona Gunn with the American flag that draped their son's casket when his body was brought to Dover Air Force Base last weekend aboard an Air Force jet.

Flags were also presented to Cherone Gunn's twin brothers, Jamal and Jason, and to Anton.

Kneeling over the casket, Anton Gunn spoke to his brother. “I told him that I loved him, and that I was going to miss him,” he said.

After a Navy bugler played taps and the ceremonial team quietly filed away from the graveside, Louge Gunn was reluctant to leave his son. He kept placing his hand on the casket, and after he finally walked away, he looked back.

Anton Gunn, speaking after the ceremony, said there was a message in the death of his brother and the 16 other sailors aboard the Cole. “Remember, they died for the country,” he said. “They died defending a country we love. They died for us. That's
what's important.”

As he spoke, he clutched the flag tightly to his chest. “This is the last physical piece I have of him,” he said. “It'll never leave me.”


CHERONE LOUIS GUNN LOUNGE GUNN CHRISTIAN TAYLORChristian Taylor, 8, whose uncle, Signalman Seaman Recruit Cherone Louis Gunn, was killed in the bombing of the destroyer Cole, received the flag that draped his uncle's coffin from the sailor's father, Louge Gunn, at the funeral Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.




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