First Female Guardsman Killed in Action Was “Girliest Tomboy You’ll Ever Meet”

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When Billie Jean Grinder’s helicopter went down in Iraq last month, she became the first female from the Tennessee Guard to die there since the war began. The 25-year-old’s funeral was held yesterday in Gallatin, where friends described her as “the girliest tomboy you’ll ever meet.” WPLN’s Blake Farmer has this remembrance.

Correction –
This story misidentified the gun shots during the funeral as a “21-gun salute.” According to Arlington National Cemetery, the fact that the firing party consists of seven riflemen, firing three volleys does not constitute a 21-gun salute – an honor reserved primarily for heads of state. Instead, the ceremony consists of three rifle volleys fired over the grave. The custom originated when armies would halt fighting to clear the dead from a battlefield. Three shots were fired to indicate the soldiers were ready to fight again.

 

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