Sergeant First Class Ed Kramer served his community as a firefighter and gave his life serving his country as a National Guard soldier. On Thursday, hundreds gathered to say their final good-byes to their friend, co-worker, and loved one. Draped in an American flag and trailed by loved ones, it was Ed Kramer's final salute. Fire trucks lined the outside of Saint Mark's Catholic Church. After the funeral ended, a procession made its way to Wilmington National Cemetery where Ed Kramer was buried. At times it seemed the rain matched the tears shed for this local hero. A veteran of two wars, Kramer died last week in Iraq in an IED explosion with three other North Carolina National Guardsmen. It was the worst combat loss for the North Carolina National Guard since World War II. "The National Guard is a family; it's like losing a brother. In this case four brothers,” said Major General William Ingram. Kramer was part of another brotherhood; he served as a Wilmington firefighter for nine years before transferring to Sunny Point Fire and Rescue. "He loved helping people and those are the best ways he knew how to do it. To be a firefighter and a soldier,” said Chief Scott Brown of Sunny Point Fire. The ceremony drew more than family, friends and co-workers. There were also those from the community who just wanted to pay their respects. "This is a very proud American who sacrificed his life for us, how could you not be here to show your respect?” said Jeri Graham. Jennifer Martin of the NC National Guard added, "He is a huge part of this community and will be remembered for his service." The ones who will miss Ed Kramer the most are his family. His wife and two girls were each given a flag as a keepsake. His family will need support. If you would like to help, you can send donations to Ed Kramer Memorial Fund, First Citizens Bank, P.O. Box 1619, Wilmington, NC 28401 - or stop by any First Citizens Bank, and ask to give to the Ed Kramer Memorial Fund. Sergeant Kramer was a member of the 120th National Guard battalion, based in Wilmington. The annual Packages From Home drive is in honor of the 120th. You can donate items to send to the local men and women serving overseas by dropping them off here at WWAY at 615 North Front Street in Wilmington. You can visit our special Packages From Home page for more information.
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