The family and friends of a fallen U.S. Marine and Los Angeles police officer are not only remembering a man they call a hero, but an everyday guy who liked to joke around. Joshua Cullins' memorial was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Wednesday morning.
A couple of thousand people – most of them in LAPD or Marine Corps uniforms – filled the pews. Joshua Cullins was a 28-year-old Marine Corps bomb specialist. During the service his family played the 1992 country music hit “Some Gave All” by Billy Ray Cyrus.
L.A.’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Roger Mahony, officiated at the non-denominational service. “Bring our brother, Joshua, the peace of your eternal home.”
Police Chief Charlie Beck and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also spoke to the crowd from a lectern a few yards from Cullin’s coffin.
One of his Marine buddies, Steve Gouak, recalled how he and Cullins loved to rib one another when they served together in Iraq three years ago. “We’d been up for two days and I said, 'Josh, grab me that Ripit energy drink out of the cooler, could ya? And Josh looked at me and his response was, ‘Sorry bro, didn’t know you wanted that.’ I never understood how me writing 'Steve' all over in permanent marker was confusing for him, but..."
On a more somber note, Cullins' aunt, Regina McCoy, read a letter his mother wrote. It said she’d never forget the day Josh told her and his father that he wanted to join the Marine Corps.
“I thought this would be the best for him. Their job was to take my boy and make him the man he could be. Give him some direction and pride in his life. The Marine Corps recruited, picked up our son at 5 a.m. on a Monday morning and returned to us 12 weeks later – a man.”
The two-hour service ended with pallbearers carrying the casket to a waiting hearse on Temple Street. The city shut that street down around the cathedral during morning rush hour.
Officers saluted. Passers-by who hadn’t known Cullins stopped to watch. Later in the day in Woodland Hills, his burial with honors included a rifle salute, a flag presentation to his parents and a ceremonial flyover.