It has been 16 days since Spc. William Chris Yauch, 23, of Batesville, Ark., died June 11 in Jalula, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. It has been one week since the memorial service of Spc. William C. Yauch.
The following is my account of part of that day – June 20, 2010 – Father’s Day, My 29th wedding anniversary and Spc. William Chris Yauch’s memorial service.
June 20, 2010
I was up, as usual, early last Sunday morning. I love to go out and take photographs of sunrises. I knew I was going to participate in the flag line for Spc. William C. Yauch’s funeral procession to the cemetery today. So, I decided to drive the route to see where I thought I would like to park. I began at the Independence County fairgrounds. The county fair had lined the fence along the hwy with American flags in honor of Spc. Yauch.
This is where I shed my first tear of many for the day. I had to stop and pull over because I noticed when you look at the flags on the fence you also see the church on the hill, where they will have Spc. William C. Yauch’s funeral service. It is also the same church where Yauch and his wife, Mallory, were married.
I continued down the highway driving past Batesville’s fire department westside station. The firemen were out preparing their trucks for the flag line. Still driving out towards the cemetery, I notice Midwest Lime Company has flags hanging up on each side of their main entrance along with their flag at half mast, this brings a few tears. I make it to the cemetery and the photographer in me tells me to park across the road from the entrance. With that decided I go back home to get a few things ready.
Spc. William C. Yauch’s funeral service is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM. Around 12:30 PM. I hear the Patriot Guard Riders are assembling at Hawg’s Exxon station to coordinate their escort. I decide to go in and gather up my water and stuff and head to the Exxon station. I got there and it was unbelievable. There were more motorcycle riders than any other event I have seen in Batesville, AR. Not only were the Patriot Guard Riders there, but many local riders and clubs were also participating.
I decided to set up and take an overall photograph. They were a very impressive group. It was not long before they were headed up to the church for the funeral and the procession.
It was around 1:00 PM. I decided to drive to the cemetery. Driving past Batesville’s Industrial Park people were already sitting in lawn chairs, with their flags, waiting. Topping the hill at the cemetery, I was a little stunned as there were probably 15 or more cars already along the road. I drove on down to the entrance and was able to squeeze in beside the Ruddell Hill Fire Department Fire truck. It was very hot, no breeze, and there were just a few clouds in the sky.
I have a 30 foot mast mounted in my truck to take photographs from an elevated view point. Today it will also be used as a flag mast in honor of Spc. William C. Yauch. My grandfather was a World War II Veteran. He was buried with full military honors, and the flag I fly today is the one that was over his casket and presented to my grandmother. I remember grandmother giving this flag to my Dad and telling him it needs to be flown, which Dad has done. I cannot think of a more honorable day than today for it to fly.
It is now about 1:30 PM and people are steadily lining the highway with flags and signs in honor of Spc. Yauch. I walked up the flag line, some of the people I knew, some of the people I’ve never seen before but everyone was friendly and you could feel the camaraderie of every one being there for a single purpose: to honor Spc. Yauch. I walked all the way to the top of the hill and from there all you could see were cars, people, and flags until they were out of sight from the curve of the road.
All I could think was “Wow!” Sometimes instead of taking a photograph you just have to take a deep breath and take it all in, this was one of those times.
It was now about 2:45 PM
The State Troopers blocked off the highway completely a little after 3:00 PM. You could hear the low rumble of the Patriot Guard Riders coming over the hill. It is a very somber moment as the hearse carrying Spc. William C. Yauch’s coffin passes by and turns into the cemetery.
The memorial service followed and was over shortly. I believe Spc. William C. Yauch was honored in a very respectful way on this day. I did not personally know Chris or his wife Mallory, but I did grow up in Batesville, AR., with his father, uncle and aunts. I feel they are as proud of our hometown as I am on this day. Of course I can not imagine the pain and sorrow they feel at the loss of their son, husband and nephew.
Thank You, Spc. William C. Yauch for your personal sacrifice on our behalf as American citizens.
Peace, Prayers and blessings.
Photos of the flag line honoring fallen hero Spc. William Chris Yauch
by Clayton Cavaness
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