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Slain Marines Going Home For Funerals

June 24, 1985

Undated (AP) _ Neighbors flew flags today as the bodies of four Marine embassy guards gunned down in El Salvador were being returned to their families for funerals.

Cpl. Gregory Weber, 22, of Cincinnati, Cpl. Patrick Kwiatkowski, 20, of Wausau, Wis., Sgt. Thomas T. Handwork, 24, of Beavercreek, Ohio, and Sgt. Bobby Joe Dickson, 27, of Northport, Ala., were slain Wednesday along with nine civilians by gunmen who opened fire in a crowded cafe district of El Salvador’s capital of San Salvador.

In Cincinnati, Jean Kromme, who took Weber to high school with her sons in a car pool, sat on her porch behind the flag she received when her husband, a World War II veteran, died.

″This was the first time I ever unfolded it,″ Mrs. Kromme said. ″It really had an effect on me in more than one way, but I think it was a good thing to do.″

Many other neighbors of Weber’s family also put out flags, and planned to keep them up until Thursday, a day after his funeral.

″This is a very patriotic street,″ Loretta Schlosser said Sunday. ″And this is a way to bring the neighborhood together in sympathy.″

Dickson’s mother, Betty Malone, said he took her aside on his last visit home at Christmas and told her he could face danger in Central America.

″He knew. He said, ‘Mama, there’s some things we need to talk about.’ And then he told me how he wanted the funeral service and what he wanted the marker to say,″ Mrs. Malone said.

The marker, she said, will read: ″Sgt. Bobby Joe Dickson, U.S. Marine, Semper Fidelis.″

The bodies were returned to Washington during the weekend, and President Reagan consoled the Marines’ relatives Saturday, vowing that the people responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.

″It made you feel good that you know people care. It helps a lot,″ said Trudy Handwork, whose son had been in the Marines for 51/2 years.

″We’re grieving now, but he died doing something he loved,″ she said.

Reagan placed Purple Heart medals on the flag-draped coffins during the ceremony in Washington.

Maj. Anthony Rothfork said from Marine headquarters in Washington that all four were being given posthumous promotions.

A funeral for Dickson was scheduled Tuesday and services for the other three were to be held Wednesday.

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