8/15/2005

Lexington Herald-Leader | 08/14/2005 | FUNERAL FOR 21-YEAR-OLD LEXINGTONIAN

FUNERAL FOR 21-YEAR-OLD LEXINGTONIAN

FAMILY PUTS ASIDE POLITICS IN REMEMBERING COMLEY

By Andy Mead

HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER

One by one, Marines in dress uniforms stepped forward yesterday to give a final, formal, white-gloved salute to Lance Cpl. Chase Johnson Comley.

The Marines' Hymn played softly as his flag-draped coffin was slowly taken from Calvary Baptist Church for a military burial at Lexington Cemetery. Comley, a driver for an amphibious assault vehicle battalion, was killed by a suicide bomber last weekend while conducting combat operations near Amiriyah, Iraq.

The funeral was a variation of a ceremony that has been repeated somewhere in the state at least 28 times since the Iraq war began.

But, in a departure from the norm in Kentucky -- one of the reddest of red states -- some of Comley's relatives, including a few sitting in the front pews, have spoken out strongly against the Bush administration and the war that took the 21-year-old Marine's life.

The pros and cons of U.S. involvement in Iraq were not discussed among family members... But on Friday, Comley's grandmother, 80-year-old Geraldine Comley of Versailles, described herself in an interview as a former Republican stalwart who is "on a rampage" against the president and the war....

Geraldine Comley's daughter, Missy Comley Beattie, also was critical of Bush and the war in a column she wrote for Friday's Herald-Leader.

Beattie didn't attend the funeral because she was in New York caring for her husband, who recently had surgery. But she spoke about the war and her family in an interview.

"I've never seen my father cry, but I've heard him cry this week," she said. "And he will look at the picture of Chase that's on their hearth and say 'George Bush killed my grandson.'"

Whitlow, who is Beattie's son, said that Mark Comley of Georgetown, Chase Comley's father, has long opposed the Iraq war. Mark Comley spoke briefly with reporters last weekend but couldn't be reached later.

Whitlow said he could not speak for Chase Comley's mother, Cathy Comley of Wilmore, who hasn't made any public comments since her son's death.

But Geraldine Comley, on her rampage, welcomed the chance to talk about her feelings.

She said "it broke my heart" when Chase Comley joined the Marines, but he told her that recruiters said he probably would be stationed in Hawaii or Japan.

"I think he really felt he needed the discipline," she said. "He was running around with a bunch of youngsters and thought this was how he was going to mature."

Geraldine Comley said her husband Victor, 85, a former Nicholasville city commissioner, didn't want the minister at Chase Comley's funeral to say that he died fighting for freedom for Americans.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 08/14/2005 | FUNERAL FOR 21-YEAR-OLD LEXINGTONIAN

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