LONGVIEW - People began gathering before noon on Saturday at Red Oak Missionary Baptist Church to pay their respects and mourn the passing of U.S. Army Sgt. Chadrick Omar Domino, who lost his life Memorial Day in Baghdad, Iraq.
Mourners quietly filled the pews inside the sanctuary, where Domino’s flag-draped casket was placed and flanked on each side by floral arrangements.
The 23-year-old was in his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed. A member of the elite Stryker Force, Domino was among those at the frontline of the military’s most dangerous missions.
Outside of the church, a large contingent of the Patriot Riders motorcycle group had staged prior to the service, maintaining a presence throughout and then providing an escort to Lakeview Memorial Cemetery, where Domino was laid to rest.
A 2002 graduate of Ennis High School, Domino joined the military that fall. The several times honored soldier was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
“It’s a sad occasion, but it’s also a joyous occasion,” the Rev. Gary Chalk, saying that as he passed the many flags on his way into the service, his heart began beating faster. “Even though we are in this war, we are still in a great country,” said Chalk, who led those in attendance in singing the gospel hymn, “I’m on the Battlefield for My Lord,” later followed by Sandra Powell’s solo of another gospel hymn, “I Am Free.”
Scripture readings from the Old and New Testaments and prayers offered during the service spoke of peace and comfort, as well as the resurrection, with Domino remembered as a kind, gentle young man who had served his country well.
“Thank you, Father, for the contribution he has made in such a short time,” pastor H.C. Rockmore Sr. prayed, asking blessings for the family Domino has left behind. “Thank you, Father, for though they endure the night, the joyful morning will come.”
Special recognitions read during the ceremony by Archila Richardson included a proclamation issued by Mayor Jan Dean and the Longview City Council, which described Domino as having given “the ultimate sacrifice defending his country and defending our rights.”
Resolutions of honor and memory were presented by several sister churches, with U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert also speaking.
Gohmert spoke of the special relationship between Domino and his older sister and said that while the flag from the casket is traditionally presented to the parents, the two siblings’ relationship also should be recognized. He then presented a flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol in Domino’s memory to Ursula Domino, saying, “We present this to you for your brother and his dedicated service in making the world a safer place.”
Speaking of the heroism exhibited by the nation’s soldiers, Gohmert said the service was more than funeral and that it was “a celebration of a great life lived so quickly.”
“We need to thank God for giving us Chadrick, and we thank Chadrick for giving so fully,” he said.
A local representative of Military Moms said Domino’s name would be placed on a cross that is part of a memorial wall for all who have lost their lives in Iraq. The man also presented the Domino family with a flag that was flown at Camp Stryker in Iraq as he described the fallen soldier as “my American hero.”
A group of AT&T employees also stood in recognition of the Domino family, with a spokesman speaking to the close ties between the co-workers.
“Chad was a good soldier here on earth but God needed a soldier with him,” she said, saying people could learn from Domino and “love the way he loved.”
“This is not the end,” she told the family. “It’s only the beginning. As a flower blooms, so is our love.”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” said Chalk in his eulogy, drawing from the book of St. John, Chapter 15, Verse 13.
“These young men and women have given of themselves to show how much they love this country and the people who live in this country,” Chalk said, saying Domino “gave the ultimate gift, he gave his life.”
Domino was buried with full military honors at Lakeview Memorial Cemetery, with a military honor guard from Fort Hood carrying his casket to its final resting place along a path lined each side with people holding flags.
Attending from the Pentagon, Maj. Gen. Jeff Sorenson expressed words on behalf of the U.S. Military, saying that Domino exemplified the Soldier’s Creed.
“Sgt. Domino lived by those words, he lived by that creed,” Sorenson said. “He always thought of others before himself.”
Assisted by the honor guard, Sorenson presented Domino’s grieving mother, Gloria Domino, the flag from her son’s casket as well as several posthumous honors accorded him.
As casualty assistance officer CW4 Larry Carleton read from the awards, Domino’s mother was presented with his Good Conduct Medal, his second Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal, which are in addition to those he had already received during his time in service.
A 21-gun salute was given by the military honor guard, which was followed by the playing of “Taps.”
Among the several hundred people in attendance for the funeral and graveside service were representatives of the military and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, various officials, community members from Ennis and Longview, and many friends and family members.
Domino joined the U.S. Army on Nov. 20, 2002. He attended initial entry training at Fort Jackson, S.C., where he was trained as an administrative specialist, and reported to Fort Lewis on May 2, 2003. He was initially assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and deployed to Iraq from November 2003 to November 2004. In August 2004 he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry within the same brigade, and deployed with the Stryker Brigade to Iraq in June 2006.
He held the primary Military Occupational Specialty of 11B: Infantryman, and a secondary specialty of 42A: Human Resources Specialist.
Prior to his death, Domino had earned various military awards and decorations including the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (two awards), Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Combat Action Badge.
The 3rd Brigade, of which Domino was a member, had been scheduled to return home in October.
Domino’s death marks the fourth military member from Ennis and the seventh from Ellis County to be killed in the line of duty in recent years.
Timothy Lee Gauna of Ennis was killed Oct. 12, 2000, aboard the USS Cole when suicide bombers attacked the ship while it was taking on fuel in the port of Yemen.
Marine Capt. Lyle Gordon, of Midlothian, was killed Jan. 26, 2005, while piloting a CH-53 helicopter about 220 miles west of Baghdad.
Army Sgt. Shawn Graham, 34, of Red Oak, was killed Sept. 25, 2005, in Balad, Iraq.
Army Spec. Aaron P. Latimer, 26 of Ennis was killed May 9, 2006, in Mosul, Iraq.
Navy corpsman Kyle Anthony Nolen, 21, of Ennis was killed in the line of duty in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2006.
Army Spec. Aaron Lee Preston, 29, of Midlothian, was killed Dec. 25, 2006, on a street in Baghdad.