Home News Local news A Sorrowful Homecoming: Bodies of Fallen Soldiers Return to St. Croix

A Sorrowful Homecoming: Bodies of Fallen Soldiers Return to St. Croix

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Jan. 29, 2007 — It was a solemn occasion Monday at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport as the bodies of two V.I. National Guard soldiers killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom arrived home to their final resting place.
All eyes focused westward as the massive C-130 aircraft, a gray military transport, touched down and taxied along the runway. Watching on the tarmac were more than 80 V.I. Army and Air National Guard members in full-dress uniform, along with family members, friends and dignitaries.
Lt. Col. David C. Canegata III of St. Croix and Sgt. First Class Floyd Everett Lake of St. Thomas died Jan. 13 when a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter they were aboard went down near Baghdad. All 12 soldiers in the chopper were killed.
Guardsmen carried the flag-draped coffins, escorted by a color guard, to waiting hearses. Families of the soldiers formed a somber procession behind the coffins and said the first of several goodbyes to their loved ones before the hearse doors closed. Many wept loudly.
Military personnel escorted the wives of the fallen soldiers. Shenneth Benjamin Canegata paused in front of her husband's casket, touching it tenderly. As grief overcame her, she laid her body on the casket and sobbed.
Linda Lake's grief-stricken wails pierced the silence as sorrow overcame her. At her side were Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and a military escort. Nearby stood Gov. John deJongh with his wife and Francis' wife.
Many National Guard members cried freely as they stood at "present arms," saluting the soldiers who had been their superiors, comrades and friends.
According to Sgt. First Class Karen Williams, the funerals for both soldiers will take place on St. Croix. Although born on St. Thomas, Lake has lived on St. Croix for more than 10 years. His wife, Linda, is from St. Croix. Her family owns Juni's Bar and Restaurant in Estate Peters Rest. Funeral arrangements for Lake are pending and will be arranged by Thomas-Hyll Funeral Homes.
The funeral service for Canegata will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, at the Island Center for the Performing Arts. Funeral arrangements are by James Memorial Funeral Home.
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