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Fallen Marine comes home

Bonnie Angus, at left in a white sweater, gazes at her husband’s casket Thursday as other family members join her in grief.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Bonnie Angus, at left in a white sweater, gazes at her husband’s casket Thursday as other family members join her in grief.

RIVERVIEW — Elderly residents sat in wheelchairs along Providence Road on Thursday, blankets on their knees and American Flags in hand, to honor a man a third their age.

Farther south on the road, 16-year old Maggie Gundlach stood at attention in her Junior ROTC uniform, saluting as a fallen Marine passed by.

Nineteen sheriff's deputies on motorcycles escorted the remains of Marine Sgt. Daniel M. Angus from MacDill Air Force Base to a Riverview funeral home.

Sgt. Angus, 28, of Thonotosassa died Jan. 24 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province of Afghanistan, said the Defense Department.

The homecoming was the third local processional honoring a fallen serviceman in four months. Hundreds of onlookers stood by the roads, waving flags and saluting.

The somber procession included a gaggle of volunteer motorcycle riders, and the route snaked from the base to Bayshore Boulevard, reaching downtown Tampa, where office workers had assembled outside, about 3 p.m.

At Twiggs Street, a dozen judges stood sentinel in their black robes.

Nancy Porrata, a courthouse clerk, noted that she has sons near in age to Angus.

"I'm standing here to share the pain that the parents are going through and their loss," she said.

From there, the procession continued through Brandon, where the elderly people sat in wheelchairs, then south to its destination in Riverview.

There, Bud Ortelt had posted himself at the corner of State Road 60 and Kings Avenue more than an hour before the procession passed.

Ortelt, who stood with a group of fellow veterans, said they came to make sure Americans don't forget those who make the ultimate sacrifice.

"Some of us that were in Vietnam know how we were treated when we came home," said Ortelt, 69.

"Rotten eggs and tomatoes," said William Hicks, 71, a Marine Corps veteran.

Near the intersection of Kings Avenue and Lumsden Road, Heidi Wilhite admonished her 5-year-old son not to drop the flag he held. She had picked him up early from school to attend the processional with his two younger brothers.

Wilhite said Angus had lived a couple of houses down from her growing up. They went to junior high and high school together, she said.

When they went to Busch Gardens together about a year ago, she asked him how he felt about the military.

"He said that he wanted to be in the Marines for as long as he could," she said. "He loved it."

With helicopters flying overhead, Angus' white hearse pulled into Serenity Meadows Funeral Home. Marines carried the flag-draped casket inside.

Angus' family followed close behind, as strains of the Marines' Hymn drifted through the air.

Times staff writer Shelley Rossetter contributed to this report. Hilary Lehman can be reached at hlehman@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2441.

Fallen Marine comes home 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 11:38pm]
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