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Riewer laid to rest

"I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

Rev. Joe DeCrans said that Bible verse likely described the man hundreds were gathered to pay tribute to.

Likely one of the largest funerals Frazee has seen, an estimated 1,600 people came to Frazee-Vergas High School to pay their last respects to Staff Sgt. Greg Riewer.

Riewer, 28, was killed March 23 in Iraq while on duty with the Minnesota National Guard. An improvised explosive device struck his Humvee.

In perfect time, seven soldiers carried Riewer's casket into the gymnasium, then removed and methodically folded the U.S. flag from the casket. Riewer's sisters then placed a cover over their brother, as his brothers accompanied the casket to the front of the gymnasium.

"The question we ask ourselves today of ourselves, 'why Greg?'" DeCrans said during the funeral, which he served as co-celebrant.

He added that Riewer certainly hadn't joined the National Guard for money or to get away from his family, friends or community, but rather because it was more his nature to help.

"If we could ask Greg, he'd say because it's the right thing to do."

Riewer enlisted in the Guards in 1997 after high school graduation, and besides his time in Iraq, he also served in Bosnia in 2003-04. He was a part of the Alpha Company 2/136 Combined Arms Battalion out of Detroit Lakes.

DeCrans said knowing that sometimes good people may suffer serious consequences, helps him to see why so many people were gathered in the school.

"It's not the number of years we are judged by, but what we have done in those years," he said.

In Riewer's years, he enjoyed his family, the outdoors, hunting, motorcycling, golfing and baseball.

"Greg wanted adventure and looked for a challenge," DeCrans eulogized. "He wasn't afraid to live life to the fullest."

To lighten the somber time, DeCrans mentioned Riewer's love for golf and being outdoors.

"All the Riewers play golf. They're all pretty good, too."

Riewer enjoyed being outside, even if it meant lawn mowing. And anyone who knows where the Riewers live knows the size of the lawn, he added.

Bishop Victor Balke said, extending his condolences to everyone mourning Riewer, "but especially his parents, brothers and sisters. I can only imagine your loss."

Riewer was awarded several medals of honor, which were given to the family during the service, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was also promoted to staff sergeant posthumous.

As the Frazee High School Band played "Battle Hymn of the Republic," soldiers carefully replaced the U.S. flag on Riewer's casket to bring it to Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery.

Anderson Bus Company drivers donated their time and drove family and friends to the graveside, where Riewer was laid to rest.