RICHMOND HILL, GA (WTOC) - With a full police and military escort, Marine CapT. Matt Freeman finally came home. His casket was received at the the Richmond Hill Funeral Home by his Marine Comrades.
Loved ones followed behind to say their final goodbyes. Thousands lined Highway 144, with flags and signs in hand to catch a glimpse of their hero.
Close friend Joshua Miracle paid his respects to the man who paid the ultimate sacrifice. "I knew what he was doing was helping others to live through the engagement," he said, speaking about the way Captain Freeman died. "And I know what he did was exactly where he wanted to be and doing exactly what he wanted to do."
The town of Richmond Hill also made sure Captain Freeman received a hero's welcome. Flags lined Highway 17 and Highway 144. Some placed in the ground, others hung high in the sky at half staff. Business signs also paid respect to the fallen hero.
"Richmond Hill is a small community," explained Derrick Smith, vice president of the First Bank of Coastal Georgia. "Emotions are running deep. We've got to pull together for the family to honor Captain Freeman for everything he's done for our state and for our country."
The flags and signs were the town's symbolic gesture of support. But it was the love, etched on people's faces and in their hearts, that most hope the Freeman family felt as they passed by.
"I don't think anyone truly understands what his mom, or wife or family is going through," said friend Tara Miracle. "It's just overwhelming sadness I feel for them."
"He is the epitome of what is to be a hero," said Joshua.
And from the looks of the thousands of people who lined up along Highway 144, they thought the same thing.
Soldiers and Veterans joined thousands of people, young and old, to stand and honor the young man they rightly see as an American hero.
Visitation for Captain Freeman will be tomorrow from 5pm to 8pm at the Richmond Hill United Methodist Church. Funeral services will be Saturday at 11am at the church.