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Strangers pay their respects, find connection with fallen Marine Cpl. Daegan Page

Strangers pay their respects, find connection with fallen Marine Cpl. Daegan Page

The public visitation for Cpl. Daegan Page

It was dark and quiet inside the west Omaha church Thursday. Light filtered through a large stained-glass window, helping to illuminate a box containing the cremated remains of Cpl. Daegan Page. The remains sat atop a table, flanked on both sides by folded U.S. flags and watched over by members of the Marine honor guard.

Nebraskans who came to pay their respects to Page paused quietly in front of his remains. Some bowed their heads, while others made the sign of the cross. Many veterans saluted.

Many had never met Page but were touched by the news of the 23-year-old Millard South High School graduate’s death on Aug. 26. Page, a Marine, was among 13 U.S. service members killed in a terrorist bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.

The connections felt by strangers propelled them to pay their respects at his public visitation at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

For Josh Graves, that connection was formed by his own service in the Marine Corps. He was in the same company as Page, exiting the service in 2015.

News of Page's death brought back memories of losing his comrades. It also reminded Graves of the call he felt to serve his country.

"It's the call to do something for a whole group of people. That's how we felt; that's how the whole unit felt," Graves said. "It doesn't matter what our backgrounds are. We're coming together to support this individual who wanted to protect a whole country of so many different types of people and risked his life for that."

For Sharon Mead, the connection was her grandson, who is about the same age as Page and is currently serving overseas.

“It’s hard,” she said of Page’s death. “Even though I didn’t know him, when I see his photo, I think of my grandson.”

Despite the heartache, Mead said it was amazing to see the thousands of people who lined Page’s procession from Eppley Airfield last week.

“You always hear about the bad things of life, and this is tragic, it’s sad, but it’s also heartwarming,” she said. “I was out there the other day when they brought him back. I was able to stand and watch all the people, old and young.”

Page’s funeral is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Paul's. It is expected to last one hour. Only family and friends are invited to attend, and there will be no overflow facility, according to the Page family. But the service will be streamed online by The World-Herald and local news stations.

A committal ceremony will be held at Omaha National Cemetery at noon, with military honors provided by Marine Corps reservists from Marine Combat Logistics Battalion 451.

Because of limited space at the cemetery, the family is asking the public to pay respects along the closed processional route from the church to the cemetery, on Millard Avenue and South 144th Street., 402-444-1067

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Jessica Wade covers breaking news, crime and the Omaha zoo. Follow her on Twitter @Jess_Wade_OWH. Phone: 402-444-1067

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