Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 10, 2013

Hometown bids farewell to hero

Tributes and respect mark airman’s memorial service

Keith Kappes

MOREHEAD — “He was another good reason to be proud of our country.”

Those words from the Rev. Gene Parr began the tributes to Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel N. Fannin, a 30-year-old Morehead native who died with three other crew members last month when their MC-12 surveillance aircraft went down in Afghanistan.

Family members, classmates, other friends, uniformed American Legion members, fellow airmen and strangers on motorcycles flying American flags were among those who came to pay their respects to this county’s third serviceman to die in America’s War on Terror.

Fannin was remembered by childhood and high school friends as a smart, modest and friendly young man who loved to read and who had a deep religious faith.

Josh Lawson, a high school classmate who’s now a police officer, described the 12-year Air Force veteran as “the kind of man you want covering your back in a dangerous situation.”

Another classmate, now a school counselor, said Fannin was a treasured friend, the kind you keep forever.

The service included the Air Force’s posthumous presentation of the Bronze Star Medal to Fannin’s young widow, Sonya, and to his mother, Sharri Jones.

The officer reading the citation was barely able to keep his composure as he recited the dangerous and specialized duties that Fannin performed superbly and frequently on behalf of U. S. and allied units on the ground in Afghanistan.

As the service ended and family members left the Morehead First Church of God, the encased citation and one of the medals were carried proudly by Henry Hamm on behalf of his only grandson.

Outside, members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists who attend military funerals, fired up their bikes to escort the flag-draped coffin back to the funeral home.

There it will await shipment to Oklahoma, where Rowan County’s newest hero will be laid to rest in a national cemetery.