Honoring a Hero

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Retired Army Lt. Colonel Robert Hemphill's casket was draped in an American flag as it was brought out of Saint Eulalia's Church near Elmhurst Friday night.

The decorated war hero was killed in a fire at his home near Moscow last month.

Some of those at his funeral service did not know Hemphill personally, but came to honor a military man.

"Every veteran deserves a military service, they went in to fight for our country to keep us safe and free and every man deserves this honor," said Thomas Franklin, an honor guard commander.

Hemphill was in the Vietnam War. He was commander of Bravo Company, serving with Oliver Stone who later directed the movie, 'Platoon. '

Hemphill wrote a book based on his experience during the war.

When he returned home with a Silver Star and four Bronze Stars, he remained active with military organizations.

"He was very dedicated, he was in all the organizations in the North Pocono area, in the rotary clubs and the masons, the veterans of foreign wars and the masons, he was active in all of them, he was a great community guy," said Joseph Zurcher, a member of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.

As friends and family gathered to say goodbye to a man they call a hero, they said they will never forget him.

"He was just an all around great guy, down to earth guy, always came out for everything , no matter what you wanted him to do," said Tom Bowditch, a member of an honor guard.

"Bob was a true hero, when you hear of veterans coming back and called heroes, well they are, but bob was a hero in the true sense of it," said Zurcher.