Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wire: Mourners Pack Funeral for Soldier Slain in Arkansas Attack

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2009 -- Newswire services reported today that about 200 mourners packed a Conway church Monday to pay respects to a 23-year-old Army private killed outside an Arkansas recruiting center.

Pvt. William Andrew Long's family must still decide whether his tombstone lists him as the first soldier to die at the hands of a terrorist in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.

Fellow Army Private Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, was wounded in the attack.

The church's sanctuary was filled with Long's family and friends, fellow armed service members, and government officials, including Gov. Mike Beebe and U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder.

Arkansas Army National Guard Honor Guard members served as pallbearers. After the playing of taps, they presented American flags to Long's mother, brother and sister, and the family placed red roses atop the casket.

Long also was honored with the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal.

The service was followed by a burial with full military honors Monday at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock.

Dozens of leather-vested veterans of the Patriot Guard Riders lined up with flags outside the church during the service, then surrounded the family with their motorcycles at the cemetery.

Beebe issued a proclamation Friday directing U.S. and Arkansas flags be flown at half-staff Monday.

Abdulhakim Muhammad, a Muslim convert who prosecutors allege was out to avenge mistreatment of Muslims, has pleaded not guilty to capital murder in the slaying.

Jim Hensley, attorney for suspect Muhammad, said last week his client was influenced by hardened terrorists with whom he was jailed in Yemen.

Prosecutors allege Muhammad wanted to kill as many soldiers as he could.

The White House has not published an official statement regarding the murder other than one made available upon request for the press.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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