"It shows that, you know, we care,'' said Melinda Spisso, a wife of a 165th Airlift Wing soldier, who was on hand for the return of Captain Freeman's body to Savannah today. "Americans care. We care about what we're doing overseas.''
The US Marine was killed in Afghanistan last Friday while supporting combat operations.
His body was returned to his home state of Georgia Wednesday, taken by a Patriot Flight to the 165th Airlift Wing and delivered to loved ones who gathered with more than 100 active and retired military as well as friends who were invited to attend his arrival.
"Well, we just welcomed home another hero,'' said retired Marine Lt. Col. Kent Shockey. "And it'd be much better if we could give him a parade where he could enjoy it. But I'm sure his family appreciated what we've done. We're proud to honor our heroes and our fallen heroes even more.''
Captain Freeman was honored by salutes and hands over hearts, by a Marine honor guard and with silence broken only by tears.
"For me, it's important,'' said Spisso. "Just to honor what they've done."
The official return for Captain Freeman was only the start of hero's welcome. And a goodbye that will continue in his hometown and with immeasurable respect.
"They loved this young man,'' said Captain Amy Sandbothe, public information officer for the 165th Airlift Wing. "This young man was valued. And this young man today was honored."
Captain Freeman's body is now at the Richmond Hill Funeral Home. Visitation will be Friday from 5pm until 8pm at the Richmond Hill United Methodist Church.
His funeral will be Saturday at 11am right across the street at the Richmond Hill United Methodist Church.