SK soldier is laid to rest

A casket draped in an American flag and flowers all around. Men in uniform embracing family members and talking with friends.

Port Orchard’s Pfc. Devon Gibbons was laid to rest on Saturday during a somber service and burial attended by hundreds of his family members, friends and supporters.

Gibbons was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas.

The 19-year-old Gibbons was wounded on April 11 when a roadside bomb was detonated near the Bradley armored vehicle he was driving while on patrol near Taji, Iraq. Three other soldiers were killed in the blast.

Gibbons was rescued with another fallen soldier, who has survived. He was taken to a hospital in Germany, then to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex., where he struggled to survive burns to 90 percent of his body, amputation of both legs and his right arm and the loss of an eye.

He died on June 23.

Despite the sadness they felt from Devon losing his 10-week fight for survival, the Gibbons’ family indicated they were buoyed by his inspirational fight – and by the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community.

Hundreds of well-wishers have sent cards, letters and e-mail of support, prompting Devon’s father, Mel Gibbons, to open the funeral to the public. The service was held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Strangers mingled with those who knew Gibbons during his life, including his former classmates from South Kitsap High.

Everywhere before and after the service stories of Devon’s feats and accomplishments were echoed throughout.

Devon’s five brothers were among those who praised their brother’s sense of humor and his commitment to serving the country.

“If there’s anything we can take away from this,” Ryan Gibbons said, “it’s that the most important things in life are not the things we have — they’re things we do.”

Some of the soldiers who served with Gibbons in Iraq attended the funeral, shaking hands and hugging family members. Among them were retired Brig. Gen. Oscar Hillman, who was on hand when Gibbons was posthumously awarded four service medals, including the Purple Heart.

Gibbons was later buried with full military honors at Sunset Lane Memorial Park in Port Orchard.

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