The flag-draped coffin of Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu Yearby, 21, was carried out after Monday's service in Oklahoma. Yearby, a Kaneohe Marine, was killed May 14 in Iraq.
Kaneohe Marine honored as a ‘brother’
MARIETTA, Okla. » Mourners remembered a Kaneohe-based Marine killed in Iraq as a small-town boy who balanced his Choctaw tribal heritage and his military life.
Hatak Yuka Keyu Martin Yearby did traditional American Indian dances with grace, compassion, discipline and free spirit -- "the way he lived his life," the Rev. Timm Emmons said Monday.
"He had a desire to be in the military since he was a young boy. And he believed in what he was doing. He was a warrior, and he was a hero and he finished the course."
Yearby was killed by a roadside bomb May 14 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, two months after he arrived in that country.
Friends and family, fellow American Indians, teachers and classmates filed past his open casket for an hour after the funeral while a U.S. Marine Corps honor guard stood at attention.
About 1,000 people attended a funeral service meant to celebrate the life of the 21-year-old newlywed from Overbrook in southern Oklahoma's Love County.
Those who spoke in the packed Marietta High School auditorium talked of how he loved to hunt, but never came back with anything. He played tricks, won dancing awards at powwows and appeared on a recruiting magazine for Upward Bound because of a headdress he made from a T-shirt.
Nine of his friends stood on stage to remember Yearby. Jake Barber spoke for them, pausing several times to regain his composure.
"Many great words describe Hatak," he said. "The only real word you need to say is 'brother.'"
"He will always be known to us as the ace of spades, the most important card in the deck. He touched us so dearly that words cannot explain," Barber said.
Yearby was serving with the Hawaii-based 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, when he was killed.
Emmons told Lindsey Michelle, Yearby's wife, that she helped him fulfill his dream of being a husband. Soon after they married, he was shipped off to Iraq. In the auditorium lobby were several photo displays. One read, "My Husband, My World," and included wedding photos and a moment of affection between the couple, with him in uniform.