WHEATLAND – One of the five U.S. Marines who were killed during a training mission near Glamis, California was a Wyoming native. Last Thursday U.S. Marine Cpl. Seth D. Rasmusen, (21), was escorted home to Buffalo via the I-25 corridor.
The funeral procession which loaded Rasmusen’s body in Denver and was heading to Buffalo made one stop in Wheatland to refuel at the Sinclair station off exit 78. The hearse was accompanied by Wyoming Highway Patrol, patriot guard, Legion Riders and others as it made it’s way north. Wyoming State Patrol, the Platte County Sheriff and Wheatland City Police were on hand to honor the Marine and to lead and flank the motorcade across the overpass and on to I25.
According to local Wyoming American Legion Rider Bill Bennett, the motorcade was traveling at a high rate of speed to take the young serviceman to his final resting place in Buffalo.
“We’ve done this many times,” Bennett said. “But this was something else. We joined the procession at Wheatland and escorted it as far as Glendo. There were people all along the route with their flags and as the hearse passed by they took their hats off. One man I will never forget was on the side of the road all by himself standing next to his pickup truck and he held his salute until everyone had passed.”
There wasn’t much time to organize as local Legion Rider and organizer Kim Zimmerman said that she had literally only hours before it happened to spread the word to the locals in Wyoming.
“The way I found out was, I am a Patriot Guard Rider, so it was posted on the Patriot Guard Rider’s Facebook page,” Zimmerman said. “As soon as I saw it, I got a hold of Rod Birkle (Wheatland VFW commander) who was out of town and then I talked to Rick Anderson in Casper and we just tried to spread the word.”
After contacting the media in Wheatland, Leah Walker and Kent Smith from KZEW began to get the word out over the air. People all over town were beginning to buy up flags from local vendors and had plans to either join the escort or to be a part of the crowd who lined the Mariposa overpass.
The Wheatland Fire Department unfurled their huge flag and hung it from an extended firetruck ladder on the overpass.
Zimmerman then posted on her Facebook page and encouraged anyone who could make it to the WYDOT area at 5 should try to do so.
“Hello friends,” her post read. “I am asking a favor today. Our Buffalo Marine Seth will be traveling from Denver to Buffalo with a highway patrol escort Monday afternoon. I will give more details as soon as he lands Monday. If we could all try and meet them on the Interstate to pay our respects to him as they take him home they would love it. I will be updating the post once we know he has landed in Denver and approximately what time he will be in each county. If there are a few police, EMT or firemen who maybe could put up some flags to honor him it would be the best support for this family who has given the ultimate sacrifice. Please let me know what county you are in if you are willing to help. Thank you, Wyoming, for being the best state. I hope I get the word out to everyone.
With only hours to prepare, Platte County became a flurry of activity as they prepared to honor one of their own home.
Updates were sent out by Zimmerman which read, “As of 1:01 p.m. they will be early to Cheyenne and the rest of the town. They stated they will be making one stop in Wheatland for fuel. Please send them all your love.
Update at 2:31 p.m.: They are going through Cheyenne now
Update they are almost to Wheatland. I can't thank everyone enough.
Update at 406 pm 73 Mike's from Casper
Update 425 pm
Update 434 pm coming into Douglas.
Just passed Lusk exits sorry bad text
Update 30 mile from Casper at 449
They are going through Casper 523pm
Buffalo should be between 630 and 6 p.m.
Thank you so much.”
Once at the Sinclair station in Wheatland, the crowd got to catch a glimpse of Rasmuson’s widow and seven-month-old baby. His mother was also present and thanked many residents for coming out to support and pay respects to her son.
“They were supposed to come in between 5 and 5:30 p.m.,” Zimmerman said. “But they were really cruisin. They got to Wheatland about 3:30 p.m. When we heard they were going to fuel at the Sinclair, we moved from the WYDOT over to where they were fueling. That way we (Legion Riders) could just follow in right behind them.”
The challenge was to pull such a massive show of support together in such a short amount of time.
“To pull it all together in such a short amount of time, I mean, just speaks volumes about Wheatland,” Zimmerman said. “We did not have but hours to get the word out.”
The show of support all the way to Glendo was evidence that the Platte County grapevine is strong.
“Even traveling as far as Glendo,” Zimmerman said. “Even the construction workers were stopped at the side of the road, and ranchers in pastures with their flags. I don’t know on a bike going 85 miles per hour how I even kept it together. When we fueled, to see the wife and the baby and his mom along with a couple other Marines; it’s just heartbreaking.”
According to the USNI website, “The five Marines who were killed when their MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft went down Wednesday in a Southern California desert were members of the “Purple Foxes” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., service officials announced late Friday.
They were: MV-22B pilots Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, N.H., and Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, Calif.; and MV-22B crew chiefs Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Ill.; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyo.; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, N.M., according to the statement from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings headquarters at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of five Marines from the Purple Fox family” said Lt. Col. John C. Miller, VMM-364’s commander. “This is an extremely difficult time for VMM-364 and it is hard to express the impact that this loss has had on our squadron and its families.
The crash is under investigation. Wing officials said the the MV-22B Osprey and crew, whose squadron is part of Marine Aircraft Group 39 at Camp Pendleton, were conducting routine flight training at the time when the tiltrotor crashed into the desert near Glamis about 12:25 p.m. June 8.”
Kayla Manle, Platte County Commissioner commented, “We truly have the BEST communities! Thank you to everyone who showed love and support.