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Airman buried with honors near Montgomery County hometown

Airman buried with honors near Montgomery County hometown

Staff Sgt. Emily Elizabeth Clayburn was buried with full military honors at Evergreen Cemetery in Fo

Staff Sgt. Emily Elizabeth Clayburn was buried with full military honors at Evergreen Cemetery in Fonda on Monday morning.

Emily’s mother, Michelle Clayburn of Gloversville, said it was a beautiful service with "Taps," a full military guard and rifle salute. She said it helped bring closure to the incident that killed her youngest daughter Jan. 14.

A recently released report by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office shed some light on what initially was described only an industrial accident.

Clayburn, a Palatine Bridge native, worked in shipping and receiving with the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. According the report, she was acting as a spotter while her shipping crew unloaded an in-air refueling boom. She was standing next to the loading dock when the boom fell, dropping 3 feet and pinning her beneath a ton and a half of airplane machinery.

The crew called 911 but by the time MacDill Air Force Base emergency personnel made it to the scene, she was dead. The next day an autopsy revealed she had been killed instantly by the blunt force to her torso and resulting spinal injuries.

Shortly after the incident, Air Force officials said they were launching an investigation into the accident. The MacDill Public Affairs Office did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

In the days since the incident, Michelle said, the military has taken all measures to honor her daughter.

“The military really takes care of its own,” she said.

Friday’s memorial service in Tampa was packed with those who served with Emily Clayburn. Some of the men and women she met during her time in South Korea and Iraq flew hundreds of miles from various bases all over the country for the service, “and many of them flew back to New York with us for the funeral,” Michelle said.

After the Florida memorial, Michelle and the rest of Emily’s immediate family flew her remains to Albany International Airport. At every layover both the family and her casket were escorted by full military guard. Other passengers applauded.

“There was so much respect, so many people at the memorial in MacDill, so many people in the cold blustery wind at the funeral,” she said. “I don’t have the words.”

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