STATESBORO — A Bulloch County National Guardsman killed in Afghanistan was laid to rest Saturday following a standing-room only funeral that packed Fletcher Memorial Baptist Church in Statesboro.
Sgt. Brock Henry Chavers Sr. was killed July 6 when a roadside bomb exploded. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Star posthumously, with the medals being given to his family during the funeral.
The funeral was far from somber, with the Agape Worship Center Choir providing spiritual song as Chavers’ family entered the church, followed by dignitaries and special friends of the family, including state Sen. Jack Hill.
Two large flags hung on the wall, bordering a large cross. Other flags braced the podium, flanked by floral arrangements that largely had a patriotic theme. One arrangement was in the form of an American flag; another formed a yellow ribbon.
Outside, members of the Patriot Guard formed a corridor, holding flags to show respect and appreciation for Chavers and his family. Elder Donald Chavers acknowledged people from different races, backgrounds and areas that came to pay their respects, encouraging visitors to celebrate Brock Chavers’ life and not to be afraid to show emotion.
“Just go ahead and put your black, white, red, yellow hands together,” he said.
Ron Andrews, pastor of Fletcher Memorial Baptist, pointed out two lights that were located on the stage, symbolizing those who have lost lives in the fight for freedom as well as those who continue to fight.
“I feel like Sgt. Brock Chavers laid down his life for me so I can do what I do,” he said. “He has joined ... men and women who, for the past 2,000 years, have loved God and country so much they gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
April Holmes, a close friend of Brock Chavers who said he was “more like a brother,” made a presentation to the Chavers’ family before performing a solo. “Brock taught me to play pool,” she said, handing a pool stick over to be given to Chavers’ son Brock Jr.
Maj. Gen. William T. Nesbitt, adjutant general of the Georgia Army National Guard, acknowledged the emotion shown by those attending the service.
“I’ve had people say they were going to celebrate someone’s life before, but you folks mean it,” he said. “It warms my heart to see this community get behind (the Chavers family).
“This family is the bedrock, the fabric that makes this country great.”
Chavers’ widow Minnie is also in the National Guard and Nesbitt also noted that four Chavers brothers are in uniform — three with Georgia’s 48th Brigade and another in basic training.
“This is a military family that knows what it means that freedom comes with a price, and this family has paid the ultimate cost,” he said.
Nesbitt also spoke of Chavers’ renowned sense of humor and his dependability.
“(Chavers) epitomized the strength of our nation. He will always be remembered as the best,” he said. “Well done, soldier. Rest in peace.”
Alfonzo Hall talked about how Chavers had disturbing feelings about going to Afghanistan. But when Hall asked if there was any way he could get out of going, he said Chavers told him, “I signed up. I have soldiers. I have to do what I have to do,” he said. “Regardless, he was going to go.”
Chavers’ mother Loice Chavers thanked those who knew her son.
“And to those of you who didn’t, you missed a treat. Brock was a character,” she said.
She also spoke of how she held strong in going to Delaware to identify her son’s body but started to break down after returning home. She sought solace in going to the cemetery where her mother is buried.
“I’m pouring my heart out to my Mama and it was like she said, ‘I told you if you raised those kids right, they’ll make you proud.’”