AUSTIN, Texas - The funeral service for Marine Staff-SGT Michael Calvin Wednesday afternoon came with full military honors.
The 37-year-old decorated Iraqi War veteran passed away suddenly in his sleep earlier this month.
Inside the small Rockdale Chapel where Calvin's funeral took place, a video showed images from his life. The Marine Communications Chief, for an entire tank company, was not only known for being a dedicated warrior, he was also passionate about the UT Longhorns.
"Mike was a big time Longhorn. Loved to rib everybody that wasn't and yeah he bled burnt orange," said longtime friend Chad Schwarz.
That passion is why burnt orange flowers and a UT flag were placed near his casket. It's also why his family chose not to dress his body in a uniform, but in the UT apparel he loved to wear while off duty.
"It doesn't surprise me one bit, I think he would prefer to go out that way," said Eric Hinistrozo.
Michael Calvin grew up in eastern Williamson County and attended Thorndale High School. While there he was member of the 94-95 state championship football team. Shortly after graduating high school, he enlisted.
Calvin never got a chance to play for the University he loved but he cheered on the team even if he was in a battle zone half a world away. With that in mind, his commander and several friends contacted the university to find a way to recognize that burnt orange passion. The marines got UT basketball coach Rick Barnes to autograph a longhorn banner. The gift was presented to Calvin's family.
"Not only did Coach Rick Barnes come through for us in a pinch there was a lot of behind the scenes, the guy who helped me was my old junior high school basketball coach at Leander High School, Coach Dave Anderson, he works as an announcer at the basketball games and he was the only touch point I had at the University of Texas and he was the guy that made this happen," said Lt. Col. Robert Bodisch.
The honor guard also presented Calvin's wife and daughters with American flags and then those at the funeral gave one last salute. The UT fight song played as Calvin's casket was carried away. A unique sendoff for a life full of burnt orange pride.