Sgt. Stefan Smith honored and laid to rest - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Sgt. Stefan Smith honored and laid to rest

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LUDOWICI, GA (WTOC) -

An American hero was honored, remembered and laid to rest Sunday.

Family and friends from Glennville and all over the region gathered together at A New Beginning Church in Ludowici to say their final farewells to Sgt. Stefan Smith.

It was a somber day as hundreds of Patriot Guard riders came from across the country to pay their respects and give support to the family of a fallen solider who meant so much to this community.

"This is a just a way of showing support to the family, this man have everything he could for our country. This is the least we can do for them to show them that they are not alone. We are standing with them as soldiers we are here as a show of support." said David Shreckengost, of the Patriot Guard.

Around 400 riders traveled from Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia to remember Smith.

"It's easy when the country calls to go the other direction but it takes true courage to stand for the men and women of the United States; of Georgia; and we need to recognize that courage. There is a price to pay for our freedom and Sgt. Smith paid that price," said Rob Butler.

In 2008, Smith moved to Glennville to become a police officer with his brother. After a year of service, both of them decided to leave law enforcement and move to Long County, to follow in their father's footsteps and join the Army.

Many members of the Fort Stewart family gathered Sunday to also support the family.

"I am a millitary wife myself and my husband was injured in Afghanistan last year, and I know if this was him that I would appreciate the support." said Breanna Vertz.

"I know how hard it is on families. I lost my squad leader there and I know how hard it is to lose someone important. It is nice to see all the support from everybody and how many people care," said Cody Vertz.

Two fire trucks draped a flag over Highway 84 to honor Smith.

Smith was one of the three soldiers that died July 23, in Soltan Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

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