WHITE SANDS, Jamaica – To the wail of gospel music, a Jamaican-born Marine killed in Iraq was laid to rest in his homeland Saturday with full military honors.
About 300 mourners from this poor farming community swayed and sang in tribute to Cpl. Bernard "Brent" Gooden (search), an emigrant to Canada who was killed April 4 in a firefight in central Iraq.
Gooden, 22, a Canadian citizen, was buried at his family plot in White Sands, about 63 miles north of Kingston (search).
"Bernard was a friend to everyone, a great man and a great soldier," Rev. Courton Reid told worshippers at the White Sands Episcopal Church of God. "He has given his life for many."
After carrying out a 21-gun salute, a Marine honor guard lowered Gooden's flag-draped coffin into the ground, not far from the banana plantation where he used to play soldier games as a child.
"He fought for my freedom, he fought for your freedom, and he fought for the freedom of people we don't even know," U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Sue Cobb (search) said. "May God bless Cpl. Gooden."
Gooden was born and raised in Jamaica but left for Canada at 16 to join his father, Bernard Gooden Sr. After college, he moved to Mount Vernon, N.Y., to live with his mother and sister.
He eventually joined the Canadian Forces reserves. In 2001, at the urging of his cousin, he enlisted in the Marines on the G.I. Bill to help finish his studies, becoming a tank crewman.
His family has created a scholarship fund in his memory, and will dedicate a computer room at his primary school in Jamaica. Local politicians have also said they would recommend renaming the town's community center in Gooden's honor.