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Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Border

Died October 19, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

31, of West Lafayette, Ohio; assigned to Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 74 in Gulfport, Miss.; died Oct. 19 while assessing a route in Yahya Khel, Paktika province, Afghanistan.

‘He fought for our freedom’

By Kathie Dickerson
Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune

COSHOCTON, Ohio — The events of Operation Enduring Freedom — taking place almost 7,000 miles away — were brought home to Coshocton on Nov. 1.

Hundreds came out to pay their respects to Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond Border, who was killed Oct. 19 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

“You watch this happening on TV and think, ‘It could never happen to us.’ When it happens to your own family, it hurts,” said Dick Border, Raymond Border’s great-uncle. “He’s a hero to us.”

“We had two sons and a son-in-law that served in the military. They’re out now,” said his wife, Maxine, as they waited for the arrival of the casket early Nov. 1 at Richard Downing Airport.

Maxine was impressed by the number of first responders, law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency medical personnel gathered at the airport to be there when the Falcon 20 jet landed.

“It’s great, what the community is doing,” she said.

Border is a son of Craig and Julie Border, of West Lafayette, and they and other family members were taken to the airport from Miller Funeral Home by a Muskingum Coach bus, where they waited with about 125 other people.

In addition to the naval honor guard, about 14 members of the Ohio Patriot Guard Riders were present to greet the fallen Seabee.

A still fog shrouded the runway early Nov. 1, which forced the airplane into a standby pattern until the white mist lifted.

The pilot suggested diverting to Zanesville Airport, but that idea was rejected at the prompting of Navy Cmdr. Donald Ross.

“We’ve got a community that’s turned out here to greet this man,” Ross said.

The plane touched down about 11:25 a.m., almost an hour later than planned, and the quiet was broken only by the sound of the jet engine as it landed. The collective crowd stood in absolute silence as naval personnel unloaded the casket. The family then spent some time with the casket on the tarmac before it was loaded into the waiting hearse.

An honor motorcade with the hearse and a Muskingum Coach bus with the family then started down Airport Road. Border’s brother, Holden, drove a blue Ford pickup truck, carrying three flags.

That was the idea of her son-in-law, Chuck Weaver, who served with Raymond for eight years, Julie Border said.

She also noticed a group belonging to the Veterans Honor Guard standing at the intersection of Airport Road and U.S. Route 36 when the bus drove up to await the plane’s arrival.

“That was nice of them to be out there,” she said.

On the return trip, Airport Road was lined with about 228 Coshocton County Career Center students holding flags, banners and a photo of Border.

A 1999 Ridgewood High School graduate, Border also was a two-year building trades student at the career center.

The honor motorcade also consisted of Ohio Patriot Guard Riders, several cruisers from the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office, the West Lafayette Police Department, Dresden Police Department and trucks from seven of the eight fire companies in the county.

Coshocton County resident Dick Timmons was part of the motorcycle group.

“We were asked to do this and are honored to do it for the fallen military,” he said. “I had a family member over there, you know, and am lucky it didn’t happen to him.”

Hundreds more turned out to honor the Coshocton native, lining Main Street and holding U.S. flags while the motorcade made its way to Miller Funeral Home.

“It’s awesome that Coshocton would turn out to do this,” said Tammy Jones of Coshocton. “We need to show our support. He fought for our freedom.”

Hundreds again stood in silence at the funeral home. Among them was Gilbert Parkhill, who stood with hat in hand next to his wife, Doris.

“We came to pay our respects,” Gilbert said.

Doris said her heart goes out to Border’s family.

“It’s such a tragedy,” she said. “I feel for his parents, and for the children.”

‘He was more into helping people than he was about himself’

By Kathie Dickerson
Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune

COSHOCTON, Ohio — Although recognized as a leader by others, everyone was an equal in Raymond Border’s eyes.

His family and his roots were important to him, and he would strengthen those links when given the opportunity.

Chad Lahna played football with Border on the Ridgewood High School team in 1997 and 1998. Lahna returned to coach at Ridgewood for a couple of years after college graduation, but since has relocated to the Tri-Valley Local School District.

Lahna said it was obvious Border liked his job in the U.S. Navy, but Border also remembered people who helped shape his life.

“He stayed in touch with the football coaches, but not just about football,” Lahna said. “He wanted to hear about personal lives too, your family and your life in general. When he was home he would just stop over — you never knew; he’d be in the weight room or at a game.”

Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond Border, 31, was killed Oct. 19, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, while assisting with a road assessment for a convoy. A son of Craig and Julie Border, of West Lafayette, this was Border’s third tour of duty. His home unit was Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 74 in Gulfport, Miss., where he’d been stationed for about 12 years.

Calling hours for Border were Nov. 2 at Miller Funeral Home in Coshocton.

From the early days together, Lahna remembered Border was easy going and easy to talk to, but when it was time for football practice, he was ready to go.

“What I remember about him is he was more into helping people than he was about himself,” Lahna said. “He was a great team leader, a leader who led by example.”

Ridgewood football coach John Slusser said he had the privilege of being Border’s coach for six years, starting in junior high on the track team.

“I saw him grow up from a little boy into a man,” Slusser said. “He had a great heart. He was one of the best athletes I’ve coached in my 17 years there, not just because of his size and speed, but his attitude. Ray would do whatever it took to please you.”

Border’s cousin Matt Nelson said the sailor was a role model for him, too.

“I didn’t have a big brother growing up. He was my older cousin, and we spent a lot of time with the family,” Nelson said. “He was an influence on me, especially when it came to wrestling. I remember my mom [Angie Border] was proud of him, and so I started wrestling when I was 6 years old.”

Border was a force on the Ridgewood football team and a state contender in wrestling. He also was into body building and entered competitions.

“I remember I wanted to grow up and be big like Ray,” Nelson said.

But he recalled other things about his cousin, too.

“He was one of the best people I’ve ever been around, a good man who always put other people before himself,” Nelson said.

Kelly Cutshall has been friends with Border’s mother, Julie, for about 20 years. She agreed with Nelson, but said it’s the way all the Border men are.

“Craig, Raymond or Holden [Border’s brother] would do anything for anyone,” Cutshall said.

She remembers Border always wanted to build things, and when he enlisted, he became a Seabee, a member of the Navy’s Construction Battalion. Family also was important to Border.

“I’ve never seen a kid that was so respectful of his parents, especially Julie,” Cutshall said. “A big part of who he is, is because of Julie.”

Others who know the family have similar memories.

“He was a wonderful kid, always had a pleasant attitude and treated everyone the same,” Kenny Savage said.

The Fresno resident’s son, Jeremy Savage, graduated from Ridgewood High School the same year as Border. The two were on the track team, football team and wrestling team together.

Both boys also enlisted in the military about the same time, Savage said.

Jeremy Savage serves in the Army and has done two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. He’s currently stateside, but his father said Jeremy’s next deployment will be in Germany.

“West Lafayette is a small, close community, and I’m touched by what the Borders are going through. Although, I can’t say I understand how they’re feeling,” he said. “I can’t imagine there’s anything worse than losing a child. No parent wants to see a child go before we do.”

One group of parents made a special presentation to the family before calling hours, but it’s something they don’t want to repeat.

“We hope we never have to do that again,” said Claudia Bruening, a member of local chapter of Blue Star Mothers, parents of active military.

They presented the Borders with a Gold Star Banner, the symbol for a family that has lost someone while serving in the military.

The group of about 10 women visibly were shaken after the ceremony, and took time in the lobby at the funeral home to collect themselves.

Marge Pizzino explained the significance of the colors on the banner to the family when they made the presentation.

Each part of the Gold Star banner has a significance, she said. The red border represents blood shed in the past. The white field stands for purity, which spirit and the price of peace only the warrior understands. The blue star represents honor, loyalty and duty. The gold star represents valor and sacrifice when one of the warriors pays the ultimate price. It doesn’t totally cover the blue star, but allows a blue border to show around the edge of the gold star, reminding the family they and their warrior continue to be honored, Pizzino said.

Savage attended calling hours for Border and said he witnessed the downtown motorcade to Miller Funeral Home on Nov. 1.

“What I saw was really nice,” he said.

An out-of-towner here to assist with honoring the family agreed.

“I’ve been to several of these and Coshocton should be really proud of themselves,” said Bill Sprague, a member of the Ohio Patriot Riders who is from Delroy.

The motorcycle group was part of an honor motorcade that escorted Border’s body from Richard Downing Airport to the funeral home on Nov. 1.

Hundreds turned out to hold flags along Airport Road and Main Street when the procession went by.

“It was a very good showing, but no matter how many you’ve gone to, it doesn’t get any easier,” Sprague said.

Family, friends say farewell to Seabee

By Kathie Dickerson
Coshocton (Ohio) Tribune

COSHOCTON, Ohio — Time stood still for hundreds of Coshocton County residents on Nov. 3.

In a field on a bend in the road headed toward Plainfield, a farmer sat on the top of his tractor, hat in hand. In that same field, a corn harvester sat idle as the operators stopped what they were doing to watch a caravan of more than 140 private vehicles, 100 motorcycles, fire trucks, ambulances and cruisers pass by.

It was the funeral procession of Navy Chief Petty Officer Raymond Border, 31, who was killed Oct. 19 in Paktika province, Afghanistan.

Funeral services were conducted at Miller Funeral Home in Coshocton for the son of Craig and Julie Border of West Lafayette. When the procession left Coshocton, it traveled through the village the Borders call home.

Main Street was lined with hundreds of people, such as Mary Slovak, holding American flags. The West Lafayette resident doesn’t know the Border family, but she wanted to be present to pay tribute their son.

“I’m here to show support for our heroes,” she said. “Every one of them are in my heart.”

Bob Herron, a World War II Army veteran, rode into the village from Isleta with his neighbor, Jack Saylor.

“We just wanted to be here to watch and show our support,” Saylor said.

People, young and old, lined the street. Caleb Shumaker, 14, didn’t know the family either, but he wanted to be outside when the procession passed.

“I’m here to show my support,” he said.

Others, like John and Brenda Mercer, wrote messages on banners.

“They’re a wonderful family in this community, that’s why we’re here,” Brenda Mercer said.

About 300 people were inside the funeral home, all the seats were filled well before the start of the service. Many of those seats held naval admirals and officers, as well as other military and elected officials. A legion of others gathered outside to listen to the service on speakers.

A video of Border’s life showed photos of him as a child, opening Christmas gifts, playing on the floor with his father, wrestling, then as a father himself with two children and three stepchildren. Some of his favorite country music played in the background, but when Toby Keith’s “I’m An American Soldier” began to play, people wiped tears from their cheeks.

The family asked Pastor Dan Eggan, who was a teacher at Ridgewood for 35 years, to perform the funeral service.

“We’re gathered here to praise God for the gift of Raymond, but also to comfort one another in our loss,” Eggan said.

He shared some of the stories he’d heard from family and friends, such as how Border was proud of being a builder chief in the Navy. He fixed a wheelbarrow for his grandmother when he was 5 and took his bicycle apart and put it back together the same year. By the time he was in the sixth grade, he’d taken a carburetor off truck and rebuilt it, Eggan said. Border graduated first in his Building Trades class at the Coshocton County Career Center in 1999.

“Being a leader and always trying to be better were always two hallmarks of Raymond’s,” Eggan said.

When he decided to enlist he chose the Navy’s Construction Battalion, and told a friend, “My family’s taken care of me all my life; it’s time I give back to them,” Eggan said recalling the story.

“Raymond was easy to love because he loved so easily,” Eggan said.

In addition to his parents, Border is survived by a son and daughter, Shelva and Donavan Border; and a fiancé, Terrence Boyd, and her three children, Aaron, Caitlyn and Amber, of Gulfport, Miss. He also has a brother Holden, of West Lafayette, and a sister Shanna Weaver and her husband, Chuck, of Florida.

This was Border’s third tour of duty in the war zones. His home unit was Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 74 in Gulfport, Miss., where he’d been stationed for 12 years. He was killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated while he was assisting with a road assessment for a convoy.

For the second time this week, the community turned out to honor this fallen hero. On Nov. 1, downtown Coshocton was a sea of flags as people lined the streets when Border’s body was brought to the funeral home from Richard Downing Airport.

On Nov. 4, hundreds of U.S. flags and red, white and blue balloons and banners could be seen between Coshocton and West Lafayette. When the funeral procession reached West Lafayette, crowds stood in silence for the 15 minutes it took for all the vehicles to pass by.

The six-mile stretch from West Lafayette to Plainfield Cemetery, where the burial service was conducted, was marked with a continuous line of flags, dotted periodically by clusters of people holding flags, standing with hats in hand and hands over their hearts. Along the route, like ladder fire trucks in Coshocton and West Lafayette, a bucket truck from Time Warner Cable held a large U.S. flag over the roadway.

Border’s burial service was accompanied by full military honors. The parents were handed a flag by Rear Adm. Mark Handley, commander of 1st Naval Construction Division, in charge of all Seabees. Son Donavan and Border’s fiancé also received flags from Rear Adm. Michael Tillotson, commander of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, which oversees the 1st Naval Construction Division.

“Julie wanted me to convey how honored and moved Raymond would be to see how the community has come together to honor him,” Eggan said.

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