Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Managing Editor

NEW ORLEANS – Three blessed and folded American flags were delivered with profound respect to the family of Huey Fassbender III during his burial service at Greenwood Cemetery.

Fassbender, 24, of LaPlace, was one of six Louisiana National Guardsmen killed Jan. 6 in Iraq, and he was laid to rest Saturday in the family crypt.

During services earlier in the chapel of Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home in Metairie, family, friends and military representatives paid their respects. A small display nearby showed Fassbender’s campaign ribbons and medals, in a triangular wooden box built to contain an American flag.

During the funeral services, the Rev. Billy O’Riordan of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church urged the assembly to think of Fassbender’s life “as a mission accomplished.”

O’Riordan added, “What we are is God’s gift to us; what we become is our gift to God.”

Huey Fassbender Jr., father of the fallen Guardsman, began the eulogy with a voice hoarse by emotion. He recalled how his son earned every good thing he received, including the respect and gratitude of his nation.

“Most importantly,” he concluded, “he earned his way into Heaven.”

Fassbender was followed by Bull’s Corner night manager Newman Sanders, who maintained an e-mail correspondance with Fassbender in Iraq. He read aloud a December e-mail he had received, thanking him for a care package he had received on Christmas evening. “It brought a true feeling of the Christmas spirit,” Fassbender wrote, and continued that he found in the package a bag of Zapp’s potato chips and “ripped into them,” enjoying the back-home flavor.

The recitation brought smiles to the congregation.

A motorcade brought Fassbender to Greenwood Cemetery, where an honor guard fired volleys in tribute and a special squad carefully blessed three flags by allowing them to be laid upon the casket and then folded.

The flags were then presented, one by one, to Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, who delivered them to Fassbender’s father, then to his mother, Sandra Norra, then to his grandparents.

Afterward, attendees approached the casket and laid hands upon it or kissed it in a final farewell.

Sgt. Shelley Landry, of the 256th HHC out of Lafayette, had been home when the deaths of the Guardsmen occurred back in Iraq. “I felt I needed to make one memorial service,” she said. “We’re a huge family over there.”

Fassbender earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Louisiana War Cross, Combat Infantryman Badge and Sharpshooter Qualification Badge with Rifle Bar.