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LaPlace Marine laid to rest

NEW ORLEANS -- Corporal Todd “Michael” Penn, Jr.'s casket left St. Joan of Arc Church in LaPlace today (May 31 ) with an American flag draped over it, the stars placed over his left shoulder. His family, friends, and fellow Marines followed close behind.

They were there to say goodbye to the Marine who died almost a week earlier. He was 20 years old.

His obituary said he died at home, surrounded by his family. Today, in front of the church, Corporal Penn's family again had come together to surround him with their love one last time.

The pallbearers brought the casket midway down the walkway to the church. They stopped. Seven Marines with guns fired three volleys of shots -- 21 in all.

After the gun salute, another Marine began playing taps on a bugle. As the lone horn sounded the sorrowful song, two Marines picked up the American flag draped over the casket and held it taut in the air. They began to fold the flag in half longways, then in half longways again.

The Marine on the fly end of the flag, away from the stars, took a corner of the flag and folded it into a triangle. She then folded it over into another triangle, continuing until she reached the other Marine. She did it with such precision that only the stars on the blue field showed. It was a blue star-spangled triangle.

The Marines presented the flag to the family.

All that was left was to place the casket in the funeral car. As it made its way, people in the crowd comforted each other. Marines saluted as the casket passed them.

Then, the driver closed the door of the funeral car and drove off.

Not long after, it rained.