John C. Bishop laid to rest
More than 600 people filled the Versailles Baptist Church spilling
over into the family life center to pay their final respects to
fallen Marine Cpl. John Bishop last Thursday, September 16.
Outside the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders took their posts with
large American flags waving in the breeze. The Patriot Guard Riders
stand between the family of the fallen military person and protestors
should any attend. None attended at Versailles last week.
Also waiting outside was Steve Thompson of Dearborn County. His
handmade caisson pulled by a single sleek black horse, would escort
the marine to his final resting place in the Cliff Hill Cemetery.
This is the third funeral Ive used the caisson for
since it was completed this year, Thompson told the Osgood
Journal. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Thompson said it was
his honor and privilege to serve the family.
The service was somber with friend, guard and brother Marine SSGT
Thomas Praxedes speaking. Honestly, I dont have a
prepared speech, he told the crowd. He said he was more
than an escort for his fallen brother, Marines know him
by heart, he said.
It is humbling to see a community bond together, he
said. While he told of a goofy, funny guy in Cpl.
Bishop, he also said, Make no mistake - he was fierce in
combat. The staff sergeant closed with the warriors
Officiating minister Bob Lay knew Cpl. Bishop as a kid
and told the crowd that he saw John as he referred
to Cpl. Bishop, find his way to the Lord and make a commitment.
He said at one youth event, a prayer declared John would be a
warrior. He gave it all, Pastor Lay said. He read
the scripture from John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than
this that a man lay down his life for his friends.
A large number of veterans representing 18 different legions,
VFW posts and various agencies filed into the church and saluted
the fallen marine. The effort was coordinated by the Versailles
American Legion Post #173 with veterans attending from Columbus,
Seymour, Aurora, Milan, Madison, Batesville, Rising Sun and St.
Leon. State officials from the Indiana American Legion attended
along with state and local government officials.
Except for the soft pawing of the horses outside, you could have
heard a pin drop as the body of Cpl. Bishop was carried out of
the church doors by brother marines.
Horse riders following the horse drawn caisson were family members
of the fallen marine. Cpl. Bishops grandfather, Tom Ramey,
of North Vernon, and three cousins, Amber Ramey, Colleen Ramey
and Steele Case, all of North Vernon, rode in the procession.
Amber told the Osgood Journal that when her cousin John
was home on leave he would ride horses with them. On a riderless
horse representing their loved one, the boots were turned backwards
signifying his death.
It seemed the entire town and more followed the procession to
the cemetery as they made their way down Main Street. The street
was lined with others who held flags, waved banners and silently
cried as this fallen hero was being taken for his last ride. It
was a sea of red, white and blue as family members were surrounded
by people sharing their grief and supporting them with love and
Services were complete at the cemetery with full military honors
including the bagpipe music, taps, 21-gun salute, and the presentation
of flags to the wife, mother, brother, and son of Cpl. Bishop.
Members of the Ripley County Sheriffs Office stood at attention
as the casket passed through the streets. Conservation Officer
Steve Miller stood at attention to pay tribute to the young man
who wanted to someday become a conservation officer.
The Versailles Police Department brought up the back of the procession
and were on hand throughout the visitation and funeral for any
details that needed attention. Patriot Guard Riders told the Osgood
Journal they were pleased with the support from the Versailles
Police Department. Those guys are really good. You might
not see them, but if you need them they appear from out of nowhere,
they need to be complimented, said Dave Teke of the Patriot
After the ceremonies were completed, family and friends gathered
at the Versailles Baptist Church where acts of kindness from an
entire community resulted in a meal and a place for those left
behind to gather and remember.
It was a group effort, Shirla Jones told the Osgood
Journal concerning the massive amount of food they were able
to offer those attending. She said many churches, businesses and
individuals came together to help. In the words of Cpl. Bishop
in a final letter to his mother, Sarah Thomas, he wrote, I
wouldnt trade these 8 years for anything and its all because
of the support. Its good to know there are still people
out there who support us no matter how they feel about this war.
It feels good to be a part of that.
Final words of SSGT Praxedes, Cpl. Bishop, we love you and
miss you. All of us are right here beside you. You died for us
so well live for you. He whispered, Semper Fi.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
Pictured at top is the crowd walking with the
family of Cpl. John Bishop as he was being escorted to his
final resting place by Steve Thompson, seated left on the
horse-drawn carriage pulling the caisson. The procession
went from the Versailles Baptist Church down Main Street
to the Cliff Hill Cemetery where the fallen marine was buried
beside his father, Gene Bishop, at his request. In the second
photo is Cpl. Bishop's son, K-Sean, who received a flag
at the end of the ceremony at the gravesite Thursday. Marines
also presented flags in the bottom photo to Cpl. Bishop's
wife, (left to right) Cpl. Crystal Bishop; his mother, Sarah
Thomas, and brother, Tyson Bishop, as brother Mike Bishop,
sister Amy Bishop and brother Eric Thomas, look on.