- The Washington Times - Friday, May 12, 2006

To the residents of Harbors of Newport in Woodbridge, Va., Brian Letendre was a hero. So when the close-knit community was given the chance to honor the fallen Marine, they did not hesitate.

Neighbors lined the sides of the procession route yesterday to pay their respects as police cars and motorcycles escorted the hearse bearing his body down Laconia Circle in front of his childhood home.

“We’re just so proud of him,” said Jamie Purcival, 51, who lives across the street from the Letendre family. “They don’t come any better than Brian.”

Capt. Brian Letendre died in Iraq on May 3 while engaged in combat operations in Al Anbar province. He is survived by his wife, Autumn, and 3-year-old son, Dillon.

The 27-year-old Marine initially served in Iraq during 2003, right before his son was born. He returned for a second tour of duty in April 2005 to voluntarily instruct an Iraqi battalion.

Yesterday the Letendre family was joined in their front yard by close friends and neighbors to silently watch the procession pass.

Nearly everyone held a small American flag passed out by Capt. Letendre’s younger brother, Justin, who also joined the Marines.

“We are tight in [this community],” said Rick Barley, a neighbor for 22 years. “Most of us had dark hair when we moved here, now it is gray.”

Capt. Letendre’s two best friends, twins David and Brian Bann, are also Marines.

“He is a great American, a great man,” David Bann said.

Milton Letendre, Capt. Letendre’s father said, “Those three were the three musketeers, but they never did anything wrong.”

The Letendres’ third son, Nick, 18, decided not to join the military, saying his brothers talked him out of it.

A front porch memorial featured a wreathed picture of Capt. Letendre in flowers, with a black bow resting nearby.

After the escort passed their house, family members quietly embraced then followed the procession to the funeral home for a private viewing.

The funeral service will take place Monday at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge followed by burial at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors.

The idea to have a procession was offered to the Letendre family by the Marines because officers he was stationed with knew he came from a close community, said Capt. Carl Zinders, the casualty assistance calls officer who was sent to help Capt. Letendre’s wife.

“There is nothing in the book that says we have to [hold a procession],” he said. “But when the community gets together and has an outpouring like this, this is what you get.”

Many of the families living on Laconia Circle have been there for years and watched their children grow up together. The Letendre family has lived there since 1985.

A trust fund has been set up to send Capt. Letendre’s son to college.

Donations can be sent to the Law Office of Michelle Jackson, 155 E. Market St., Suite 400, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

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