WATERFORD, CT, USA
CPL, 2D AABN, 2D MARDIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
AN NASIRIYAH, IRAQ 03/23/2003
It is written that meritorious deeds will precede a good person before his arrival in the next world.
The meritorious deeds of Marine Corporal Kemaphoom “Ahn” Chanawongse of Waterford, Connecticut, were remembered Monday at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The 22-year-old Marine, who died on the battlefield in Iraq March 23, was buried with full military honors during a 30-minute ceremony.
“We, on behalf of the Chanawongse family, the Thai people and the Buddhist communities in the United States, are here today at Arlington National Cemetery for an important ceremony for our brother,” Buddhist Council of the Midwest President Emeritus Chuen Phangcham said as he presided over the Buddhist graveside service.
“He died in the service of his duty for this great country. We are proud of him. Kemaphoom, may your consciousness be born in a good form of life. May all being be free from suffering. May all beings be happy.”
Born in Bangkok, Chanawongse and his family moved to United States when he was 9, settling in Waterford, where he attended school.
A 1999 graduate of Waterford High School, Chanawongse enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, following a family tradition of military service. His grandfather, Charan Pinrode, a group commander in the Royal Thai Air Force, attended the ceremony dressed in his crisp, white, military dress uniform.
The family chose Arlington for Chanwongse’s burial to honor him as a hero. He is the 16th casualty of the Iraq war to be buried in Arlington. Another soldier who died in Iraq is scheduled for burial there in two weeks.
In a soft voice, barely audible, Tan Patchem, Chanawongse’s mother, thanked her son in a brief, graveside statement for all the love he gave her during his short life.
“I will see you one day,” she said. “I love you.”
“I am very proud to have him as a son,” Paul Patchem, Chanawongse’s stepfather, said.
After the military honors, the casket was removed and returned to a local funeral home, where the remains will be cremated and then returned to Arlington on Wednesday for a private family interment.
The family will remain in Washington, where additional services will be held at a Thai temple during the next three days.