STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - Hundreds in Statesboro coming together Friday to see a fallen hero and native son returned home.
The body of Air Force Staff Sergeant Chester McBride III was escorted through downtown Statesboro, and many turned out to line the streets of the convoy's route. The motorcade consisted of local and state police, as well as the Patriot Guard Riders.
McBride graduated from Statesboro High School in 2003, and over the past two weeks we've heard from former classmates and teachers who remember McBride as a great teammate, person of character and role model.
The viewing lasts at the Agape Worship Center until 8 p.m. Friday, and there's been a steady flow of people going in to of their respects to Statesboro's fallen Airman. But even before the viewing, hundreds carrying American flags of all sizes began to line North and West Main Streets through town, leaving little room along the route uncovered, which is exactly what folks were hoping for.
Even though it was a little chilly, the weather cooperated and allowed for those wanting to honor the life of SSgt. McBride to do so. A few people explained why the show of support was important to them.
"Respect for the young man. He paid the ultimate price. Respect for the family, and his coworkers. My brother-in-law is retired Air Force. End it means a lot, especially with a small hometown like this," said Mary Jo Strosnider.
"I think it's just something that we need to do. And like I was telling you a little while ago, there's so much going on in the world today. This is the time to pull everybody together. And it's just something that needs to be done. He has made the ultimate sacrifice," said Cynthia Raymond.
A group of McBride's former classmates lined an area in front of the courthouse, and lowered American flags as the motorcade passed. And while watching, people reflected on the sacrifice SSgt. McBride made while serving our country, and the family left behind.
"He was from Statesboro, he is a hometown hero. He's part of us. And you know, we are here with his family. If they need us, all they need to do is let us know," said Deborah Deal. "And this is what family needs to be. And everybody needs to come out and show respect. This is love. This is what God wants us to do."
"Thinking about what they were going through, and just couldn't imagine the grief that they were feeling at that time when they heard it. They need our prayers now, continue to pray for them, and be with them," said Ronald Leggett. "I'm friends with the family. And I just want to be out here to support them too. I know what they're going through has got to be devastating. And all the support we can give them is gonna help out."
Even if they didn't know him personally, the people of Statesboro who came out this New Year's Day are keeping Staff Sergeant McBride's memory alive, by coming together and collectively honoring him for the sacrifice he made for our country.
"I am so deeply sorrowed at their loss. My heart, I have thought about them, and they have been in my prayers. I've thought about them every day," said Linda Green.
The funeral is Saturday morning at 11, and will be held at Hanner Fieldhouse on the campus of Georgia Southern University.