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Funeral Honors Marine's Life of Service
Cecil Cawley, 8, and his 6-year-old sister Keiko took turns holding a blue box containing the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal as they followed their father's casket Thursday from services at the Bountiful Regional Center to his grave in Roy.
Their father, Marine Staff Sgt. James Cawley, was killed March 29 in Iraq when a sniper fired on F Company in the early morning darkness. In the confusion, a Humvee driver fatally crushed Cawley and injured Marine Capt. Harry Porter as the two men lay sleeping.
"I don't know the circumstances of his death, but I do know his unit was moving toward the sound of the gunfire," Cawley's longtime friend, Gunnery Sgt. Geoff Wilson, told mourners. "That counts."
Cawley, 41, a Salt Lake City police officer and member of the department's SWAT team and gang unit, was a Marine reservist activated last year in the nation's war on terrorism. On Thursday, dozens of police officers and military personnel in full-dress uniform lined flag-draped sidewalks as Cawley's casket was carried to the LDS church and then to the Roy City Cemetery for burial.
Marine Maj. Gen. John McCarthy, in presenting the rare medal representing the Corps' highest achievements, said that whenever Marines meet, "James will be there."
"War is ugly, but it is not the ugliest thing," he said. "Having nothing to fight for is uglier."
Months before the February orders sending Cawley's platoon in the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines, to Kuwait, he had a premonition of his death, his sister told the nearly 2,000 mourners.
Julie Cawley Hanson said that in December, her brother had sent her an e-mail, describing arrangements he wanted "in case I don't come back."
The fatherly advice he wanted to leave with his children were from the poem, "If," by the poet Rudyard Kipling:
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowances for their doubting too . . ."
Mike Cawley read aloud the poem and told his brother's children that when they visit him, "I will read it to you again. I will also tell you stories of your papa and how he grew up to be a great man.. . . Your papa will be with you always."
Elder Bruce D. Porter, of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' First Quorum of the Seventy, read a letter from the church's First Presidency expressing condolences and gratitude for Cawley's service to his church and country.
"We unite our prayers in your behalf," wrote LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley and his two counselors. "We ask for blessed peace and comfort at this tender time of parting and in the years ahead."
Wilson said he met Cawley while the two had been stationed in Okinawa, where Cawley had met and in 1991 married his wife, Miyuki. Wilson remembered his initial disbelief when Cawley translated a street sign, written in Japanese. Wilson was unaware that Cawley had served an LDS Church mission in Fukuoka, Japan, from 1981-83, and was fluent in the language.
"No one I knew could speak Japanese so I figured he was kidding," said Wilson. "For a guy from Mississippi, meeting a Mormon who could speak Japanese was pretty exotic."
Cawley, who originally joined the Army, enlisted in the Marines so he could get back to Okinawa.
"When he decided to spend his life in the service of others, he chose the path of the warrior," said Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Brewer, addressing Cawley's children. "A lot of people are free today because of your dad. There are Marines alive today because of the training your dad gave them. A lot of people mourn with you today because they feel your loss. Your father was a noble man."
Cawley joined the Salt Lake Police Department in 1997 in order to return to Utah to care for his ailing, widowed father and to spend more time with his family.
"I remember his happiness whenever he spoke of his wife and his children," said Cawley's police partner, Detective Mark Shuman. "Jimbo was many things to many people, but to me, he was a loyal and trusting friend."
Hanson said her brother's last words to her were to take care of his family. Two days after his death, she recalled, his wife received a letter from Cawley. It was written on the back of an MRE ration cover, telling his family: "I will see you again."
"He set his affairs in order," she said. " . . . This is not the end for Jim."