Staff Sgt. Seigart, killed in Iraq, is laid to rest

Published 5:38 pm Friday, February 23, 2007

Staff Sergeant Carl Leonard Seigart was laid to rest Thursday after a meritorious career in the U.S. Army. Tribute was paid to him by his family, church family and his Army family as well as members of several motorcycle clubs who band together as The Patriotic Guard Riders to pay respect to fallen soldiers.

The eulogy was given by Gary Sumrall, former pastor of Salem Baptist Church. The guest speaker was Brig. Gen. Leon Collins. An inspirational message about sacrifice was given by Pastor Allen Hickman, and special music was provided by Todd Goodwin, Farron Moeller and Trissie Moeller.

The tribute from Seigart’s family, read by Sumrall, included memories of him and an E-mail sent to his wife, Suzanne, before he died. The fond remembrances caused the soft flow of tears from family members “who deeply loved their step-father and step grandfather,” Sumrall said. The family expressed great regard for Seigart’s character in their tribute calling him selfless, generous, always ready to lend a hand and never expecting a favor returned, but “foremost is that he was a Christian man.”

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“The California-born, beach lover had to get used to the ways of the Deep South,” Sumrall said, “It was often with hilarious results.”

“It was a short time,” Seigart’s step-grandfather said in the tribute, “but we were honored to have him in the Smith family.”

Seigart’s wife talked to him the Sunday before he was killed and he told her that he had sent her a Valentine’s card. That card arrived the day before the funeral. Suzanne Seigart said in the tribute, “It was like a message from Heaven. He said he loved me and he also wrote, ‘Your love for me makes me confident you are waiting for me.’”

Sumrall said, “Now he is waiting for her in Heaven.”

Sumrall read the non-commissioned officer’s code after the tribute. He said those characteristics summed up Seigart’s character. “He accomplished his mission, fulfilled his responsibilities, and provided leadership placing his soldiers’ needs above his own.

“I appreciate this man and what he’s done for us,” Sumrall said, “It is an honor to honor Carl. He gave his life to maintain our freedom.”

Gen. Collins, a brigade commander in Iraq last year said, “I didn’t know him, I’m not going to pretend I did. But, that does not dampen the empty feeling I have. We have something in common, because we each raised our hand and uttered the same oath to protect this country and the people of this country.” He presented several remarks, and remembrances from the soldiers that worked under Seigart and who worked with him in Iraq.

Seigart earned many awards, eight were on his tribute table, during his years of service. He was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously at the funeral. The medal was given to his wife. Collins said through tears, “No greater love hath a man than that he lay his life down for his brothers.”

Collins, using last names in a military fashion, said, “Baxter said Seigart ‘was most loyal’; Holden said, ‘he was always teaching and helping’; Sgt. Walton said, ‘he was always looking to make things better’; Brandi Hucklebee said, ‘He invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family. I had a great time. He will be missed … by his soldiers. He would always take time to talk with his soldiers.’

“We can lay down at night without fear because of men like Sgt. Seigart,” Collins said.

The procession began with the Picayune Fire Department, Picayune Police Department, more than 25 motorcycles ridden by the Patriotic Guard Riders, followed by the Seigart, then the family. Flags, waving in the Spring-like breeze, lined Goodyear Boulevard. The street was filled with the people from the area, hands held over their hearts as the procession passed by with no one lowering their hand until the last car had passed. The Fire and Rescue truck had extended its ladder across the boulevard with a large American Flag hanging from its end.

Hickman gave a message on sacrifice. He described the meaning of the word as forfeiture of something considered very valuable for something considered of even greater value. “This is what Sgt. Carl Seigart did for us and for this country.”

At the grave side, the flag covered casket was positioned, the family seated, then Seigart was honored with a 21-gun salute, surrounded by 15 waving flags held by the Patriotic Guard Riders.

“Remember, Suzanne,” Hickman said, “this isn’t the end.”