Heath Douglas Warner
Private, United States Marine Corps
NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lance Corporal James R. Davenport, 20, of Danville, Indiana, died November 22, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
Private Heath D. Warner, 19, of Canton, Ohio, died November 22, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
Both Marines were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Media with questions about these Marines can
call the Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8870
Canton McKinley graduate, in Marines
for a year, was proud to be `defending freedom'
When Heath Warner was 12, he visited Arlington National Cemetery with his family.
Standing at attention, Heath saluted a member of the honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The guard gave the boy a subtle hint, a slight wink, letting Heath know that he understood what the boy was feeling at the historic site.
Soon, Marine Private Heath D. Warner, 19, will return to Arlington National Cemetery, this time to be buried in the rolling landscape that meant so much to him.
He was among three Marines killed November 22, 2006 in a roadside bombing in Iraq.
The young man, who would have turned 20 on January 2, 2007, dreamed of going into the military from the time he was 5.
While at Canton McKinley High School, he decided to join the Marines, enlisted in his senior year and by August 2005 -- several weeks after graduation -- was on his way to boot camp.
Inside their home this week, his parents, Scott and Melissa Warner, grabbed a pile of snapshots and pulled out one after another showing Heath as he grew up, determined to serve his country.
There was a picture of him wearing the Army uniform of his grandfather, Randy Metzger, of Bolivar.
Another showed Heath standing at attention and saluting at an Army fort in Virginia.
And one was from seven years ago as he stood at attention and saluted in the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
On graduation day at McKinley, he walked straight as an arrow, like a Marine, as he picked up his diploma.
``This is what he's always wanted to do,'' said his mother, Melissa Warner, 39, a cashier trainer for Sears.
"It was his calling in life,'' she said.
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America played a part in Heath's desire to serve his country.
"I remember him over and over saying, 'I'm gonna go fight for my country,' '' his mother said.
In the week since his parents learned of his death, they have been comforted by friends and family and even strangers who have stopped by their Canton home to visit or to drop off food, flowers and cards.
Heath was a gunner on a Humvee when he and Lance Corporal James Davenport, 20, of Danville, Indiana, and Lance Corporal Joshua Alonzo, 21, of Dumas, Texas, were killed while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
The three were part of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and were based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
As a gunner, he stood on the Humvee.
On his Web site atwww.myspace.com/tmarui, he wrote, "if you are gonna die, die standing up.''
On that Web site, he listed his major as "Defending Freedom.''
While in Hawaii, he spoke with his family by cell phone, sometimes several times a day.
But after he left for Iraq in early September, the family received only one letter and no phone calls.
The letter was dated October 2 and arrived in Canton on October 28, 2006.
Heath wrote that he was studying the Bible and reading The Purpose Driven Life, a religious best-seller by Rick Warren.
"I don't want to talk about it much,'' he said in the letter. "I get homesick. And you worry.''
In that letter, he told his family he had survived an IED -- an improvised explosive device.
"I know God is watching,'' he wrote.
Father Scott Warner, 43, a financial analyst for the Westfield Group in Medina County, said he and his wife believe Heath was trying to protect his family by not telling them much about what was going on in Iraq.
"Heath was a selfless young man,'' his father said.
The young Marine loved to break dance, was intrigued with martial arts, was teaching himself to speak Japanese and had taken Arabic lessons in the Marines.
A brother, Chandler, 14, described Heath as his best friend.
Losing him, Chandler said, is hard.
"My nerves are shot,'' he said.
His brother's sacrifice, Chandler said, will "motivate me to do something good with my life.''
Heath has another brother, 7-year-old Ashton.
Father Scott Warner recalled a Memorial Day ceremony at McKinley Monument this year, attended by family of service members who had died in Iraq.
He said he told his wife during the ceremony: "I pray to God we aren't up there next year.''
Heath didn't like to say goodbye when on the phone with his parents. Instead, he would say, ``talk to you soon'' or something like that, his parents said.
In the last letter to his family were these words in English: "I love you all,'' followed by this word in Arabic, "Goodbye.''
For some reason, his mother said, God wanted her son.
"He entrusted him to me,'' Melissa Warner said. "Our children are definitely a true gift from God.... God needed him and I had to give him back.''
Funeral arrangements will be handled by the
Heitger funeral home, Jackson Chapel, at 5850 Wales Road N.W. in Jackson
Township. Times, dates and locations of calling hours and funeral services
have not been determined.
Family mourns Marine
Saturday, November 25, 2006
By Lori Monsewicz
COURTESY OF THE CANTON (OHIO) REPOSITORY
McKinley High School graduate Heath D. Warner had dreamed of becoming a U.S. Marine.
When the 19-year-old was “killed instantly by the blast” from an IED (improvised explosive device) during hostilities in Haqlaniya, Iraq, on Wednesday morning, he died just that — a Marine, Private First Class.
“We need men and women like Heath to serve our country so that we can have the privileges we have. I am in awe of my son,” Scott Warner said Friday, fighting back tears as he spoke to media in his living room.
The single-star banner identifying a soldier’s home still hung in the front window of the Perkins Avenue NW house. An American flag and a Marine flag were proudly displayed on the front porch.
Warner was a gunner on an armored Humvee engaged in operations against insurgents in the Al Anbar province, according to the casualty report Marine officials supplied his parents, Scott and Melissa Warner.
The report said that Warner was wearing a helmet, flak jacket and other protective gear but died from “severe blast injuries.”
Other Marines on duty with Heath Warner also were killed, Scott Warner said.
Family Anxiously awaited word
The Warners were notified of his death on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. They hadn’t heard from their son since they received a letter from him October 28, 2006. The letter, dated October 1, began in Arabic. Melissa Warner said her son, who’d taught himself Japanese, was learning Arabic.
A 2005 graduate, Heath Warner had only been a Marine for about a year and a half, returning home on leave only a couple of times, she said. He went to Iraq about 10 weeks ago to serve a six-month tour of duty.
“We knew they were doing some sort of operation,” Scott Warner said. “I know he would have been in contact with us if he was able to.” Melissa Warner said their son had called her five or six times a day when he had been stationed in Hawaii.
Scott Warner said the weeks without word from Heath made him anxious.
“Every day, you would just pray that you wouldn’t hear (bad news) ... that, ‘OK, I got through another day.’ But then, too, I just desperately wanted to hear from my son,” he said.
Instead, he got a visit from officials, and the news wasn’t good.
“It was like you see on TV,” Scott Warner recalled. “The car pulls up, the Marines come out and they come up to your house and you (just) know.”
Private family Thanksgiving
The family sent inquiring media away Thursday, celebrating their memories of Heath Warner’s last Thanksgiving.
“I know that’s what my son would have wanted,” Melissa Warner said. “Last year, he ate and ate and ate until he got sick. He loved Thanksgiving and this time of year. He loved to smell the turkey.”
And he loved to spend time with his family, she said, calling him “very nurturing” and pointing out that his younger brothers — Chandler, 14, and Ashton, 7, — “just adored him.” She said Chandler was Heath Warner’s best friend, and said that when he was home last, Ashton “was on him like Velcro.”
The family celebrated Heath Warner’s 20th birthday in August, knowing he would be in Iraq when he actually turned 20 on January 2, 2007.
Loved the Marines
“He was so proud to be in his dress blues,” Scott Warner said, smiling. “He would put on his dress blues to go to the mall and pick up chicks.”
The young Marine had planned to return to Canton when he left the service, Melissa Warner said. Her son told her that he wanted to be a McKinley principal and then, as a former Marine and Canton City Schools graduate, he planned “to straighten those kids out,” she said, smiling through tears.
Scott Warner said his son was committed to the Marines, and had been intent on joining since childhood, even more so since September 11, 2001.
“He always had a desire to serve,” he said. “I was from a family with the core values of ‘God, family and country.’ I instilled that in Heath. It was natural that he would join the service.” Grandparents, great-grandparents and uncles had served in various branches of the military.
“He knew what was ahead,” Scott Warner said. “He believed in what he was doing.”
His wife agreed, calling their son, “a wonderful, wonderful young man. He was a hero, and his heart was in it 100 percent,” she said.
And although she is honoring her son’s life by talking about him, she said, she is devastated by his death.
“He wanted to get married and have kids. He’ll never get to do that now,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “I’ll never see my grandkids; I’ll never see him get married.”
Her husband asked that residents in the community “put out their flags” in honor of his son.
He said the military provided no information as to when the body would be returned to the United States.
But, he said, “I know where my son is. He’s
in heaven. He’s with the Lord.”
Horse-drawn hearse to carry Marine's body in Canton
By Jim Carney
Courtesy of the Beacon Journal
A 110-year-old horse-drawn hearse will carry the body of Canton Marine Private Heath Warner next week.
The Marine died in a roadside bombing in Iraq on November 22, 2006.
The owner of the 19th century hearse, Robert Smith, owner of Smith Funeral Homes of Baltic and Sugarcreek in Tuscarawas County, said he will provide the hearse for free for the procession through Canton after the funeral next week.
Melissa and Scott Warner had asked Cathi Heitger, a funeral director and vice president of Heitger Funeral Service Jackson Chapel, which is handling their son's arrangements, if she could find a horse-drawn hearse.
Heitger called Smith and he was more than happy to oblige.
Jacob and Erma Yoder of Berlin will provide two horses and will drive the antique hearse.
Warner's funeral procession from Bethel Temple will go past his home on Perkins Avenue Northwest and also Worley Elementary School, which he attended.
The hearse was manufactured in 1896, Smith said, by Sayres Scovill Co. of Cincinnati.
Scott Warner said the family appreciates Smith's generosity. "They are very kind and generous to think of us like that,'' Warner said.
Calling hours for Warner will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Bethel Temple at 711 25th St. N.W. in Canton. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the church.
Following the funeral, the procession will travel west on 25th Street Northwest, then turn onto Fulton Road. It will then travel south on Stadium Park Drive Northwest through Stadium Park and then will turn onto 12th Street Northwest. It will then head down Perkins Avenue Northwest to pass in front of Warner's home at 1424 Perkins Ave. N.W. It will then proceed along 15th Street Northwest to Fulton Road. The procession will head down 23rd Street Northwest to pass Worley Elementary School and then will turn onto Cleveland Avenue. It will travel along 25th Street Northwest back to the church.
Warner will be buried later at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Pregnancy Support Center of Stark County, P.O. Box 8451, Canton, Ohio 44711, or to the Memorial Fund for Private Heath D. Warner at any FirstMerit branch.
12 December 2006:
Marine Private Heath D. Warner, lauded for his deep desire to serve his country, was laid to rest amid the sounds of Marine riflemen firing volleys and a bugler playing taps at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old graduate of McKinley High School at Canton was killed in Iraq on November 22, 2006, when an armored Humvee in which he was riding was hit by a roadside bomb.
Warner, a gunner, was praised as a man who loved God, his family and country during the 20-minute ceremony attended by about 30 family members and friends, including his parents Scott and Melissa Warner and his brothers Chandler, 14, and Ashton, 7.
The cemetery seemed unusually still as Warner’s casket was carried to the gravesite by Marine pallbearers.
Navy Chaplain Ronald Nordan told the mourners they had the comfort of knowing that Warner’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ strengthened him in his service to country and ultimately in giving up his life for his nation.
The family’s pastor, Rev. Terry Kirschman of Bethel Temple Assembly of God in Jackson Township, also offered a prayer. He said Christ’s death and resurrection “has provided life for us.”
Referring to Warner, he said, “Though we say goodbye today, we expect to say hello again.”
Warner’s father Scott read a poem at the gravesite paying tribute to the “common soldier.”
A Marine firing party shot off three volleys to repeated orders of “ready, aim, fire.” A Marine bugler followed with taps.
After the U.S. flag held over the casket was folded, Marine Colonel Gregory Boyle presented it to Warner’s mother.
When the immediate family was gathered at the casket, Boyle presented Purple Hearts earned by Warner to his two younger brothers.
Scott Warner said the family was struggling with mixed feelings of pride, honor and grief.
“You’re so proud but you’re grieving so strongly at the same time,” he said.
Warner said the family was totally impressed
with the honor shown to their son and “the compassion of the Marine leaders
that came to honor our son today. It meant a lot to us.”
Canton Marine buried as hero
McKinley grad killed in action rests at Arlington
By Jim Carney
Courtesy of the Beacon Journal
13 December 2006
The Marine who, as a boy on a family vacation, saluted a guard at Arlington National Cemetery was buried here Tuesday.
Nineteen-year-old Marine Private Heath D. Warner was buried in a section of the historic cemetery where 282 others who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
The grave of Private Warner, killed November 22, 2006, in a roadside bombing in Iraq along with two other Marines, is located about 35 yards from the grave of Marine Sergeant Justin Walsh of Cuyahoga Falls.
Walsh was killed in Iraq in October when a roadside bomb went off as he was defusing another bomb.
Scott and Melissa Warner of Canton said their son had a dream of one day returning to Canton as principal of Canton McKinley High School.
He left for boot camp shortly after graduating from McKinley in 2005. He was sent to Iraq on September 11, 2006.
The somber burial service took place on a sunny, springlike afternoon in mid-December.
It featured a team of Marines who carried his flag-draped casket from a hearse to the grave site with precision and care.
At the grave site, the Marines lifted Warner's casket up in a final salute before placing it before his family.
Warner and the other fallen from Iraq are buried in six rows in what is called Section 60 of the cemetery.
"It was a wonderful service,'' said Scott Warner.
He said it was an honor to have his son buried at Arlington, but the grief is still great. "The honor matches the grief.''
Scott Warner said it was fitting that Heath was buried at Arlington. "He is our hero.''
After a funeral service last week in Canton, his flag-draped casket was driven from his church, Bethel Temple, past his home and his grade school on a horse-drawn 19th-century hearse.
The pastor of the church, Terry Kirschman, in remarks at Arlington, told the Marine's family that the promise of Christian faith is that even though "we say goodbye today, we expect to say hello again.''
"In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we shall see him again,'' Kirschman said.
In his only letter to his parents from Iraq, Warner wrote that he was studying the Bible and the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren with some others in his unit.
In the nearly three weeks since his son's death, Warner said he and his wife have received e-mails from Heath's comrades, who are still in Iraq. They've told them about their son's bravery.
"They really put their lives on the line,'' he said.
Warner said he hopes the public continues to pray for the men and women who are serving America in the armed forces.
"It takes the lives of our young men and women
to keep us free,'' he said.
23 August 2010:
CANTON, Ohio -- The father of a Canton Marine whose final resting place was in question said he's received confirmation that his son's name matches the casket that was buried at Arlington National Cemetery but not enough information to remove all doubt.
Scott Warner requested clarification from the cemetery after Arlington came under fire this summer for hundreds of mismarked and unmarked graves.
Marine PVT Heath Warner died in 2006 while serving in Iraq. His funeral was held in his hometown of Canton, and then his casket was sent to Arlington for burial.
Scott Warner said Arlington confirms that Heath's name matches the parcel number on the cemetery map, but there are problems with other information.
Warner said there is no signature on the paperwork that marked the arrival of Heath's casket in D.C. and later at Arlington. He also has yet to receive confirmation that the number on the casket is the correct one.
Also, Heath Warner's paperwork lists services with a funeral home from Oak Lawn, Illinois, but his service took place in his hometown of Canton, Scott Warner said.
Congressman John Boccieri called the problems
at Arlington "shameful." He has been working with the Warners for a resolution
and has asked for an audit of Arlington and other federal cemeteries, including
Western Reserve in Rittman, Ohio.
3 September 2010:
CANTON, Ohio -- Scott Warner is hopeful that exhuming the body of his son, Marine Private Heath Warner, will settle a mystery and give his family closure.
"This is really hard and emotionally grueling," Warner said. "Our family needs peace of mind."
Heath Warner was 19 years old when he was killed by an IED in Iraq in 2006.
Services in his home town of Canton were followed by a final burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Warner's grave is one of hundreds now being investigated after serious problems were noted at the cemetery.
Cemetery administrators have been unable to confirm that Warner's body is in the casket the Warner family buried. Incomplete and missing paperwork leave large gaps of time in which the location of Warner's casket is in doubt.
Cemetery administrators acknowledge that no one knows for sure if the correct casket was buried in the cemetery spot, Scott Warner said.
Arlington officials plan to exhume the casket Sept. 15 so that id and casket tags can be checked to confirm the identity of the service member inside.
WARNER, HEATH DOUGLAS
Michael Robert Patterson
Rose Event Photo By M. R. Patterson
Photo Courtesy of the Warner Family, May 2008
Photos Courtesy of Holly, March 2007
Photo Courtesy Of Holly, January 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, January 2007