Salem Honors Fallen Marine

December 18, 2004 -- Posted at 7:00 p.m. CST

SALEM  --  Friends and family members gathered at the First Baptist Church in Salem to honor a fallen soldier, and a beloved member of the community.

"Our country has lost a great patriot, the Marines have lost a fine soldier. This community has lost a future leader, and this church has lost a Godly young man,"said Pastor John Hodges.

Jason Clairday was killed in combat last Sunday in Fallujah.

Friends say what Jason wanted more than anything in life was to be apart of something, and he was.

He was a valued member of this community, and to his family including his wife of less than a year.

In the Marines, he was a part of a team.

He defended the ones who were unable to defend themselves.

To many, this young man is a "hero", but those closest to him say Jason would be uncomfortable with the title.

"I think he would first want to be remembered as a Christian, as a believer in Christ. As someone who truly loved. I think he would be more excited about the prospect of lives being changed because he was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice,"said Hodges.

Those who knew Jason say he had a spirit that was unmatched by anyone.

Although Jason is no longer here, the light his spirit had will continue to shine on the loved ones left behind.

"When he would focus on you, you could feel the gentleness the tenderness that his eyes would exude, then you knew he was special,"said Hodges.