On hand for the arrival was Governor Jay Nixon and Missouri National Guard Adjutant General Stephen L. Danner.
Governor Nixon had not been expected. An aide for the governor arrived shortly after noon to announce to Airport Superintendent Howard Frazier that the list of those who would arrive to show respect for the Monett soldier was increasing. The Adjutant General landed in Monett at around 1 p.m. in a military plane.
Stark, a 2007 Monett High School graduate, was killed in action in Afghanistan on Feb. 28.
Stark's mother, Teresa Stark, and brother, Trenton, were surrounded by other family members as they walked onto the airport taxiway to receive the body.
A nine-person funeral detail from Fort Leonard Wood marched to the plane to receive the body. The flag-draped casket was rolled onto a hydraulic hoist that lowered it to the ground. The detail carried the casket in silence to the hearse while the family, Governor Nixon and other delegates stood at attention, hands on hearts and in salute until the hearse left the tarmac.
As the hearse stopped next to the airport terminal, a delegation of 13 National Guard soldiers from the Monett and Pierce City companies snapped to attention. The soldiers stood in salute until the family had gathered in the hearse and departed.
Representatives were also on hand from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Two vehicles joined the procession to the funeral home in Monett from the Highway Patrol's bomb squad and a comparable team from the Springfield Police Department. According to a spokesperson for the Highway Patrol, both bomb squads came to show their professional respect to Stark, who served as an explosives disposal specialist.
Visitation for Christopher Stark will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Buchanan Funeral Home in Monett. The public funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Jolly Mill Park, southwest of Monett.
Governor Nixon issued the following proclamation in honor of Stark:
"Whereas, Specialist Christopher G. Stark, of Monett, Mo., was a soldier in the United States Army, assigned to the 705th Explosive Ordnance Company in Fort Polk, La.; and
"Whereas, while serving his country, Specialist Stark was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; and
"Whereas, on Feb. 28, 2011, Specialist Stark, age 22, died of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Wardak Province, Afghanistan; and
"Whereas, Specialist Stark's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Markmanship Qualification Badge (Bar, Weapon: Rifle (Inscription: Rifle), Expert), and the Overseas Service Bar.
"Now therefore, I, Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Governor of the State of Missouri, as a mark of respect for the death of Specialist Christopher G. Stark and for his bravery and service for the United States of America, do hereby order that the flag of the United States and the flag of Missouri shall be flown at half-staff at all government buildings statewide for one full day on March 12, 2011, and shall be flown at half-staff at all government buildings in the County of Barry, Mo., from March 13, 2011, to March 18, 2011, from sunrise to sunset.
"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Missouri, in the City of Jefferson, this 9th day of March, 2011."
/s/ Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon