National Guard soldier laid to rest in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Sean Walsh was the 29th member of the California National Guard to die in the Middle East since Sept. 11, 2001.

The sorrow, the silence and the signs of another fallen American soldier were present at Walsh's funeral on Saturday.

"It's the hardest day of my life," said mother Cheryl Walsh. "Not the worst, but the hardest."

The worst day was Nov. 18, the day Walsh died following a mortar attack on his base in eastern Afghanistan. Walsh and his unit were due home in just two weeks, and his homecoming wasn't supposed to end up like this.

"Sean was a masterpiece," said Ofc. Bill Davis. "Thank you for sharing him with the rest of us. Sean Michael Walsh was a wonderful son and a terrific friend."

"It's difficult to be here now, but it's important to be here," said Ofc. Chris Bell.

The pain spans across several generations and departments because Walsh touched so many lives.

Walsh was an explorer for the Santa Clara Police Department. He had hoped to return to the department one day as a K-9 police officer.

As a teenager, Walsh said he wanted to be an explorer because he loved law enforcement, Davis recounted.

His immediate goal was to attend college in the spring and to spend time with his mother.

"You touched so many people and I've heard so many wonderful things about you," said Walsh. "I'm truly blessed to have been your mother and I'm grateful for the time we had together."

It was a hero's farewell as police, military, friends and family led the procession to Oak Hill Funeral Home -- Walsh's final resting place.

In honor of her son, Walsh has started the "Sean Walsh K-9 Memorial Fund" with the hopes of raising enough money to buy another K-9 dog for the Santa Clara Police Department.

Donations can be made to the "Sean Walsh K-9 Memorial Fund" at any Bank of America branch or by mailing a donation to Bank of America, attention Jordan Bencomo, 2975 Meridian Avenue, San Jose.

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