Lake City buries Pfc. Hebertby Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio
A Lake City man who felt compelled to join the military after the Sept. 11 attacks was laid to rest Monday, with hundreds of people filling a church and hundreds more standing outside holding American flags.
Lake City, Minn. — Lake City mourned the loss of soldier Tony Hebert Monday. Hebert died 10 days ago in Baghdad, after an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
Hebert would have turned 20 on Saturday. All the businesses in the river town closed late Monday morning in honor of Hebert's funeral. More than 250 representatives from veterans groups and 800 mourners attended the funeral.
Mourners made a 15-block procession from St. Mary's Catholic Church to the gravesite. The procession went past Tony Hebert's high school and middle school.
Members of Hebert's high school graduation class draped trees, signposts and lightposts with yellow ribbons. Across town, flags were at half-staff and some business had signs that said "Freedom rings. Thank you, Tony."
Hebert's father, Bob, said the community support for his family's loss has been tremendous.
"He would be way overwhelmed by this," Hebert said. "He would appreciate this deeply, but he would be embarrassed. He was shy. I shouldn't say shy. He was a quiet kid. He was the deep pond. When he had something to say, it was important, or an Austin Powers comment."
Austin Powers was Tony Hebert's favorite movie. Bob Hebert said Tony was a proud soldier, but he said he was also much more than that. Hebert said school wasn't his son's thing; instead, Tony wanted to see the world.
"He wanted to get out. He wanted to see things. 9/11 affected him deeply, also," Hebert said. "We had long talks. I obviously was not thrilled with the idea of him joining the military. At this time, he conveyed to me that -- he was a big golfer, he had to step up to the tee sometimes."
Tony Hebert visited his family in February. Bob Hebert says his son had grown up a great deal. He was looking forward to the end of his second tour, this November. He wanted to be a firefighter or police officer. The family spoke with Tony a week before his death.
Hebert was the 61st person with strong Minnesota ties to be killed in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)