The service at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery began at 3 p.m. on the dot — a family tradition.
As the honor guard from the 1st Cavalry Division brought the flag-draped casket before the crowd, soldiers in uniform and veterans solemnly
saluted, paying their respects to Spc. Yingming Sun — one of the eight soldiers from Company F, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and one U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadet killed in a tragic accident on Fort Hood when their Army truck overturned in a low-water crossing June 2.
Translators were on hand as Chaplain Capt. Alex Lu, from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted the service in Chinese for the benefit of Sun’s family — his mother, who had flown in from Kentucky; his wife of less than a year who he had been in the process of bringing to the U.S.; and his father and stepmother. His wife, father and stepmother were flown in for the funeral from Tieling City, China.
“The family decided to have Spc. Sun buried here due to the problems they would have had getting him back to China,” Lu said. “And he would not have received the honors he deserves over in China, especially as a U.S. soldier.”
Lu spoke to the family of the honor Sun had gained as a soldier defending the United States and the U.S. Constitution, having completed a tour in South Korea before he was stationed at Fort Hood.
“These men and women have given of themselves so that you and I can continue to enjoy the freedoms and liberties our forefathers envisioned for this great nation,” Lu said. “Such is the life and legacy of Spc. Sun.”
Lu spoke of the worries and difficulties the family faced while their loved one was far away and during his deployment to Korea.
“You have also given a great deal. On behalf of the U.S. Army, thank you on behalf of your support for his service to this country,” he added. “In America, there is a saying; ‘Behind every successful man is a strong woman.’ Therefore, we thank you for being his support. For every honor Spc. Sun receives, it is an acknowledgement of this.”
The honor guard fired the traditional three volleys — an old battlefield custom where two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield and fire off three volleys to indicate the dead had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle. After the solemn playing of “Taps,” the honor guard carefully folded the flag draped over Sun’s casket and presented it to Lt. Col. Joey Errington, commander of 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment.
Errington, with the help of a translator, presented the flag to Sun’s wife, Caiyu Li, on behalf of a grateful nation. Two more flags were ceremoniously laid on the casket afterward and presented to Sun’s mother and father.
According to Chinese tradition, the family stayed with the casket until it was laid in the ground.
Sun’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
He is survived by his wife, Caiyu Li of China, father, Hong Sun of China and mother, Wenping Zhang of China.