A somber mood prevailed over the Eastern Sierra this past weekend as the casket of Army Corporal Wayne Geiger was carried home to Lone Pine. Geiger was killed on October 18, two months into his tour in Iraq.
Whether they knew Corporal Geiger or not, people of the Owens Valley lined the highway to pay their respects to the young man. Saturday morning, Main Street, Bishop, was lined with American flags. The hundreds of people who came out to watch the funeral procession as it made its way to Lone Pine, brought more red, white, and blue to the street to honor one of our own.
With enough flags to rival the best July Fourth parade, all watched as the Sheriff and Highway Patrol vehicles escorted the white hearse down Main Street. After the procession passed through town the quiet crowd went their various ways, some with tears in their eyes.
Big Pine and Independence were no different as people stood on the side of the highway to pay their respects.
In Lone Pine, the military honor guard escorted the casket into the High School Gymnasium, where hundreds of people gathered for the funeral services. Inyo Sheriff Lt. Randy Geiger, spoke eloquently and lovingly about his son. Lt. Geiger thanked the people of Lone Pine for their open arms and overwhelming support given to himself, his wife Kim and their daughter Jesse.
Lt. Geiger also said that before his son left for Iraq, he was focused and knew what he was getting into. He also said that he was inspired by his sons inner strength.
All who spoke of Corporal Wayne Geiger mentioned his love for sports, especially basketball.
In the same room where Wayne Geiger shined on the basketball court, former coaches Matt Kingsley and Scott Kemp, spoke on the soldiers love for the game. Kingsley, as well as friends and family, all spoke about the young Geigers sense of humor that kept them entertained over the years.
At the cemetery the honor guard carried the casket to the gravesite. The sobs from the crowd, the military gun salute, and taps, marked this solemn occasion.
Lt. Randy Geiger described Wayne as not only his own son, but a son of the Owens Valley. The hundreds of people who came out to honor the fallen soldier revealed that truth.
And, as Mrs. Geiger received the folded American Flag from her sons casket, her broken heart was shared by all.