AUGUSTA, Maine — Family, friends, brothers and sisters in arms and three beloved dogs attended funeral and committal services for Staff Sgt. Jessica Wing on Saturday afternoon.
Those who spoke during the services at the Augusta Armory remembered Wing as a great friend and dedicated soldier.
Chaplain Earl Weigelt, who presided over the ceremonies, said Wing was an adventurous woman who was always “reflective, sympathetic and always taking in strays.”
Staff Sgt. Christopher Stafford, a longtime friend and colleague of Wing’s, said during the funeral that he first met Wing in 1995 when he volunteered to go pick up a new recruit. When he arrived and exited his vehicle, he looked down and found a buffalo nickel unlike any coin he’d seen before, so he picked it up.
Then he saw the recruit he was sent to retrieve — Wing. He recalled her curly blond hair and the fact that she was on crutches while trying to carry three large bags to the vehicle.
Stafford said he was able to set that buffalo nickel coin in Wing’s casket before the ceremony as a symbol of the day he met her.
Wing was “strong and righteous, yet noble and humble,” he said. Stafford stopped to salute Wing’s casket after he was done speaking.
Stafford also pointed out three dogs in the armory, which were owned by Wing. Stafford said that if he hadn’t brought the dogs to the ceremony, Wing would have been livid.
“They are her children,” Stafford said.
Wing, who was born in Florida but later moved to Maine and called it her home, died Aug. 27 in Kuwait. Details of what caused her death have not been released and are under investigation, but military officials have said her death was not combat related.
Wing, a 42-year-old UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for the Bangor-based 126th Aviation Medevac unit, was responsible for repairing and maintained helicopters.
She joined the U.S. Army at age 18 and continued to serve for more than 11 years before taking a year off, according to Weigelt. In 2004, she joined the Maine National Guard and served two tours in Iraq before she was sent to Kuwait earlier this year.
In total, she spent 23 years in uniform and was deployed overseas six times.
More than two dozen Patriot Guard Riders and police led a procession of vehicles from the armory to the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta later that afternoon. During the committal ceremony, four Medevac helicopters flew overhead in formation.
Family members wore yellow and orange flowers during the services. At the close of the committal ceremony, they laid the flowers on Wing’s casket.
Servicemen and servicewomen who attended the committal lined up, walked to the casket and took turns saluting Wing individually.
Wing’s family was presented with a folded American Flag and a Maine Flag that was flown over the Blaine House. The family also received Wing’s service medals and awards.
Flags were lowered to half-staff in Augusta on Saturday in Wing’s honor.