- Ed Richter Staff Writer
Hundreds of mourners streamed past the casket of Army Master Sgt. Corey Hood on Friday evening during a public visitation to pay their respects and to remember the West Chester native.
Hood, 32, a member of the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, died Aug. 16 following an accident during a performance at the Chicago Air and Water Show. He was a 2001 graduate of Lakota West High School. On Monday he was posthumously promoted to the rank of master sergeant.
Hood was remembered in many ways during the four-hour visitation at West Chester Church of the Nazarene, where American flags lined the church’s driveway.
Ray and Sharon Bauman, of Finneytown, were among what some estimated to be more than 1,000 mourners at the visitation. Hood was the nephew of the Bauman’s son-in-law.
“I guess number one, he was doing what he wanted to do and he was very committed,” Ray Bauman said. “He thought it was an honor to serve and he enjoyed doing jump exhibitions that people enjoyed.”
They said that they met Hood a handful of times at family get-togethers.
“What a tribute to him,” Ray Bauman said about the visitation. “Some of the flowers were from various events where he had jumped and there were photos of him with his family and friends inside the church.”
Sharon Bauman said some people who came to the visitation had never met Hood, but were appreciative of those who served in the military.
“What a loss,” she said. “He was such a fine man.”
During his 14-year tenure in the Army, Hood served as a Forward Observer, Team Chief, Platoon Sergeant and an Airborne Instructor. He completed five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and received many accolades and medals.
Hood was awarded two Bronze Stars, two Meritorious Service Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Air Assault Badge, and the Combat Action Badge.
“So many young people are here and they see people who are willing to die for what we take for granted,” Sharon Bauman said. “People didn’t go through the line and leave. They were lingering and filling the pews and they were comforting each other. There were others who appeared to reflecting about their lives.”
Hood was scheduled for another tour in Afghanistan in the next two months, she said.
John Birdsong, an Army veteran of Vietnam, was among those representing American Legion Post 681 of West Chester to pay his respects.
“We try to have a contingent from our post to attend the visitation and the funeral,” he said. “It’s a neat thing to have this opportunity to be of assistance.”
Army Warrant Officer 2 Carl Hignite said he met Hood when they were in the seventh grade at Hopewell Junior High School.
“I knew him a long time,” Hignite said. “The first time that I met him I was getting into a fight. He (Hood) said, ‘I got your back. Who are we fighting?’ ”
Hignite said both of them enlisted in the Army in 2000 but ended up on different career paths in the service. However, he said they kept in touch throughout their careers. The last time he saw Hood was around 2006 in Iraq.
“He accomplished a lot. And he was very well-known in the Army,” Hignite said. “He went to all the Army schools back to back and it seemed there wasn’t a school that he hadn’t gone to. His goal was to be an E-7 (sergeant first class) by the time he was 30. He made at age 28.”
Hignite said Hood was a jumpmaster at the Air Assault School and was an instructor at the Airborne School.
“The Golden Knights is an elite team and the selection process to get there is unbelievable. Only the best of the best of the best get to that level,” Hignite said.
“He really fits the heroes remembered because he is a legend who’ll never die,” Hignite said.
Funeral service for Hood will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lakota West High School, 8940 Union Centre Blvd., West Chester Twp.
A private burial will follow at Rose Hill Burial Park in Hamilton.