Crowds rolled in waves up Broad Street toward Mineville, past old roadside oaks and maples wrapped in yellow ribbons.
The sense of loss in this small town was palpable, a sadness seemed caught in the air and sifted through the leafless trees.
“Devastation,” Ed Decker said in a word how it felt.
He was four years ahead of Venne at Moriah High School, but their families are lifelong friends.
“He was a great guy. He did anything for everybody,” he said, standing at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. “We worked together, in road construction. He was kindhearted and a hard worker — made everybody smile.”
‘HONOR, PEACE, LOVE’
Sharlene Joiner arrived ahead of the funeral procession, too.
The fallen soldier was one grade behind her son Cohen in school.
“He was very sweet. The whole family is,” she said quietly, her dark eyes searching.
“Dain got along with all of the kids, all sorts of kids; it didn’t matter if they were popular or not. He had a natural gift of kindness.”
“A great American — honor, peace, love,” Jenn Lee said, pinning a yellow ribbon to her father’s coat.
“If he could do something extra, he would,” Decker said thoughtfully.
And that is just what Venne was doing in Paktiya Province in Afghanistan when he was killed by a roadside bomb.
He had pushed back a planned leave to make sure his company was in good order before coming home.
Capt. Daniel McCarthy, an Army reservist, served with Venne in the same battalion until last year.
He said the service and ceremony Tuesday provided a show of respect for the fallen soldier and his family.
“He was a great soldier. He wanted to serve,” he said.
“He was an extremely stand-up guy. He was a soldier’s soldier. It’s unbelievably tragic.
“It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t had to be at war. The bond of brotherhood is so strong; you’re fighting for your brothers. Dain wanted to be there for his soldiers. And Dain was so dedicated, he wanted them to make it through. We all know the risks of what we’re going into.
“We’re proud to serve.”
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.org