JAMAICA Defence Force (JDF) soldier Leachim Whyte was laid to rest during a tear-filled ceremony at the Up Park Camp chapel on Friday, the day that would have marked his 19th birthday.
"Mi grandson, mi grandson, mi want back mi grandson," his grandmother wailed as the soldiers marched towards the cemetery with Whyte's casket held above their heads, a procession trailing behind them.
"How dem coulda do him so? Not even to just shot him in him foot," she cried, as relatives tried to restrain and comfort her.
"Don't tell me to calm down," she responded fiercely to someone trying to console her. "You don't know how I feel. You don't feel my pain."
Family and friends of the slain soldier sobbed openly, mourning the loss of a young man they all described as a helpful and responsible individual.
Whyte's body was found in a shallow grave near the Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus depot in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, two weeks ago, after having been reported missing the previous week.
Police have reported that a post-mortem confirmed that he died from strangulation.
The teen went missing on December 17 after leaving work at the JDF headquarters at Up Park Camp at about 6:00pm. He reportedly was headed to Spanish Town to visit a female friend.
Whyte graduated from Norman Manley High School in 2011 and soon after sat the army's entry test. Last January, he was called in to begin rigorous training and by July, he joined the ranks of the force.
His high school colleague and friend Jovan Litckman said Whyte loved the outdoors and always wanted to enlist in the army. To that end, he said his friend became a cadet while still a student.
Litckman broke down in tears as he approached the lectern to read the eulogy for the young man he befriended when they were both in grade seven. Another of Whyte's friends, Jason Anderson, read it on his behalf.
"He was a responsible, intelligent and caring person," Anderson read.
"Even though Leachim may be gone, his memory will live on in all of us forever," he said.