The Rev. Mark Mendes knew Benjamin Sherman as a mischievous boy who could melt you with a look, especially if he was in trouble. But beneath the mischief it all was kindness, love and loyalty that grew with the boy into honor, courage and respect. Mendes had no trouble picturing Sherman sacrificing his life to help a struggling comrade in Afghanistan.

The Rev. Mark Mendes knew Benjamin Sherman as a mischievous boy who could melt you with a look, especially if he was in trouble.


But beneath the mischief it all was kindness, love and loyalty that grew with the boy into honor, courage and respect. Mendes had no trouble picturing Sherman sacrificing his life to help a struggling comrade in Afghanistan.


Sherman had the faith to stick-up for the underdog, to try to make the world a better place and to jump into a raging river to help a fellow solider, Sherman’s former minister recalled.


“You could see the love he had for the people around him,” Mendes told an overflow crowd attending the U.S. Army sergeant’s funeral Friday at Second Church of Plymouth in Manomet. “Ben rushed toward life. He took on life’s dangers.”


Hundreds paid tribute to the fallen paratrooper, holding American flags and waiting more than an hour in the driving rain for Sherman’s flag-draped casket to pass in a horse-drawn caisson.


More than 200 mourners, including Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and Selectman Richard Quintal, crowded into Second Church for the service. Hundreds more watched on monitors in the church basement and listened to speakers from the church grounds.


Sherman, a 21-year-old Manomet resident and 2006 graduate of Plymouth South High School, died earlier this month after diving into a river in western Afghanistan to help a struggling comrade. Both paratroopers were sweep downstream. The other solider, Sgt. Brandon Islip, has not been found.


Sherman’s family called on mourners to pray for Brandon’s safe return and remembered their own sergeant as a fun-loving son and husband, a practical joker who embraced life.


“Ben always had a way of making people feel good about themselves,” his wife, Patricia Sherman, who is expecting the couple’s first child in March, said as she fought back tears. If Sherman could attend his own funeral, she said, he’d probably raise a toast, because he felt those who serve deserve to party.


Denise Sherman, Ben’s mother, said her son could be a teddy bear, but he stood up for what he believed in. “He built bridges not fences. He said walk to the edge and do not be afraid,” she said.


Army officials posthumously promoted Sherman to sergeant. He was also awarded two service medals and the Bronze Star.


A military honor guard fired three volleys as Sherman was laid to rest in the family plot behind the church. In closing the church service, the Rev. Judith Medeiros called on mourners to remember Sherman’s personal credo.


“Walk to the edge, listen hard, practice wellness, play with abandon, continue to learn, appreciate your friends, choose with no regrets, do what you love and live as if this is all there is,” Medeiros said.