SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - A 22-year-old soldier who was killed last month in a noncombat accident in Afghanistan was laid to rest Tuesday with full military honors.
Governor John Baldacci joined friends and family members at Holy Cross Church for the funeral of Army Specialist Justin Buxbaum, a 2004 graduate of South Portland High School.
Specialist Buxbaum, who was sent to Afghanistan in April after completing two tours in Iraq, was remembered as someone who put others first, was fond of children, and hoped to go to college and become an elementary school teacher.
His family learned of his death on Memorial Day.
His mother, Julie, told WCSH-TV in Portland that the accident occurred when her son's platoon returned from a three-day mission and his roommate entered the room after Specialist Buxbaum set a gun against the wall.
"The gun had been picked up," she said.
"I don't know if it was Justin's or his roommate's. And when they went to put it down it was at an angle and hit the ground hard and discharged and went into my son's lung. They said he was alive for a little while and talking to them and no more."
Julie Buxbaum said she forgives the young soldier who caused the death and realizes that he must feel devastated.
The governor ordered flags across the state to be lowered to half-staff to coincide with Specialist Buxbaum's funeral.