ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — On a bitterly cold day, dozens of flags outlined a path outside Atonement Lutheran Church in St. Cloud. Members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard came from all over the state on New Year’s Day to honor the life of Cpl. Sean A. Osterman.
They stood in the single digits, arms outstretched with the American flag, and said it was nothing compared to the sacrifice of the 21-year-old Princeton, Minnesota native, who died in Afghanistan December 16th.
“He didn’t choose his day, he just choose to serve and the least we can do is to be here and let his family know we care,” said Doug Bley, captain of the Minnesota Patriot Guard.
Cpl. Osterman was a member of the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He joined the Marine Corps at age 17 on a delayed entry program shortly after his graduation from St. Cloud Technical High School.
On Dec. 14, he was leading his reconnaissance platoon through a dangerous area in southern Afghanistan when he was hit by sniper fire. He died two days later at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
At his funeral service in St. Cloud, crowds stood shoulder to shoulder in the pews — classmates, relatives, fellow Marines, and among them, Gov. Pawlenty, Gov. Elect Mark Dayton and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
The Marines awarded Cpl. Osterman with a posthumous Purple Heart for his bravery. His 14-year-old brother, Eli, accepted the medal, while his mother Kelly Hugo looked on, on this new year facing a lifetime without her son.
“He was good brother, he was a good son, he would have been a great dad,” she said through tears. “But this is not my plan, it’s not his plan, it’s the Good Lord’s, and that is what I am accepting.”
Marine Chaplain John Morris offered words of comfort to the family. Morris said in grief, we talk about “how people die of something,” but Cpl. Osterman died, “for something.”
“He did serve and I haven’t gone through the grief to get to the pride and that helped me to that,” said Hugo.
Hugo wasn’t surprised her son rose through the Marine ranks quickly, returning to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty as a leader of his platoon. She described her son as a risk taker, a kid who has always lived his life on the front lines.
“That doesn’t mean he went into this sitaution in Afghanistan with a risky heart, he knew what might happen and that is part of service,” said Hugo. “I’m very thankful he was a Marine.”
Before her son left for his second tour in Afghanistan, he told his mother if anything happened, he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
He died just weeks into his second deployment and will be buried there Tuesday morning.
Governor Pawlenty ordered all U.S. flags and Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the State of Minnesota, from sunrise until sunset on January 4, 2011, Corporal Sean A. Osterman is survived by his mother, Kelly Hugo; father, Marine Reserve Colonel Anthony Osterman; siblings, Katie, Olivia, Elijah, and Sarah.
WCCO-TV’s Lindsey Seavert Reports
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