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PHOTOS/VIDEO: Honoring a Hero, Sgt. James Harvey's Funeral

Family, friends and service men and women from various departments attended Harvey's funeral mass and burial today.

On a cloudless, warm June morning, nearly 200 people packed St. Catharine Church in Spring Lake to pay their respects to

Harvey was a 2005 Arthur L. Johnson graduate and lived on Conger Way in Clark after moving from Union with his parents and three older sisters – Christine, 35, Robin, 29, and Tracey, 25. (The Harveys moved to Toms River in 2007.) He enlisted in the Army in January 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan in January of this year. Harvey was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The roar of motorcycles signaled Harvey's approach, as dozens of members of the Toms River American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard Riders escorted the hearse. Liz Smith, a captain within the Patriot Guard Riders, when commended for the group's display of honor, said "It's our honor to be here." Smith was reluctant to count how many services she's attended with the PGR, saying simply, "Too many." The national organization provides accompaniment to all military funerals at the invitation of the deceased's family. 

During the traditional funeral mass, Msgr. Thomas A. Luebking asked mourners to reflect on a particularly appropriate line from the scripture reading, John 15:13: "There is no greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

As the mass was near over, Harvey's father James mustered the courage to speak, reading a letter Harvey himself had written in the event of his death. His voice trembling, James Harvey read his son's words to those gathered:

"I would like to begin by saying thanking you all for coming and supporting me in everything I have done. Some great and some not so much. Don't be angry with the Army. I did this by choice and loved every day. My job fit me and I excelled at it. I did not die alone. I am with brothers-in-arms and I trust them and they trusted me. I died fighting for my country and there is no greater honor. Anyone who knows who I am, knows that I didn't go without a fight. I loved my life and lived every day as if it was my last. I don't regret anything I did. I had a blast. Every day was an adventure. So let's not mourn my death. Celebrate my life. I am in a better place and still having a blast.

With love, James Harvey" 

Mourners processed to St. Anne's Cemetery in Spring Lake, where Harvey received full military honors, including a flag folding and presentation, 21-gun salute, a bugler playing "Taps," and a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace." 

Harvey was posthumously promoted to sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star medal, Army Commendation Medal for valor, Global War on Terrorism medal, Afghan Campaign medal, NATO ribbon, Good Conduct medal and Purple Heart.

Bill Duffy June 30, 2011 at 11:32 AM
Jessica, During and after the reading of the "last letter home", there wasn't a dry eye in the church. I saw veterans' and active duty military wiping their eyes and sniffling. It was very moving. It was very powerful. I was honored to be there and represent the veterans' of Clark. Bill Duffy
William F. Hoover July 02, 2011 at 10:17 PM
From what I have been able to see of the PATCH coverage and Bill Duffy's posts on Facebook our Hero, Army Sgt. James Harvey II, received a very fine send off by all his Family, Friends, and the Public. I will keep him on my Memorial Day list and each Memorial Day when I travel to the Nevada Veterans Cemetery I will include him with others that I honor for their valiant service to our Country and each of us. I am very proud of Sgt. Harvey as I am of all our Clark and Garwood veterans for their sacrifices to protect us all in our Garwood and Clark Hometown area. He will rest in peace now as he is shielded by the wings of Angels.

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