KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - Marine Corps Sergeant Kenneth May Jr., 26, of Kilgore was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month. Wednesday, East Texans came out to honor the Marine as he made his final trip home.
With hundreds of flags waving, a somber silence fell on the East Texas Regional Airport tarmac. A water gun volley shot over the plane as the body of Sergeant May was returned home.
"We're here to honor him and show his family the respect and honor the he deserves and they deserve…to honor this young man and it impacts us all," said Mike Eubank, with the Patriot Guard.
In a moving ceremony with full honors from fellow Marines, Mays' family and hundreds of others paid their respects to a fallen warrior.
"It's the hardest thing," said Sheila Manning. "It is such an honor for us to be able to be out here and show our respect for this fallen Marine and his family - his community."
A World War II veteran of a German POW camp, Puett Wilcox says he imagines May at attention singing the Marine Corps Hymn now.
"They all love our country," said Wilcox. "I picture this young man as being there, too, and I picture him starting singing where the music left off."
"We just try to in some small part let the community and the families know how much we appreciate their service their sacrifice," said Manning.
With the Patriot Guard leading the way, hundreds more well-wishers lined the procession route to Kilgore, with their own tribute.
"[I am here] out of patriotism and…mostly in support for that mother and father who lost their boy," said Lisa Pate.
"Our young people do sacrifice their lives for our country and that's what we're here for," said Eubank.
May once said he hoped to put himself out of a job because the warrior desires peace. The who gathered Wednesday hope his peace has finally come.
Mays' funeral is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Kilgore.
Saint Luke's United Methodist Church and Regions Bank have set up a scholarship fund in honor of Sergeant May. The funds will be used to provide scholarships to local students participating in the Kilgore College music program. Anyone wishing to contribute may make donations at any Regions Bank under "Sgt. Kenneth May Memorial Scholarship Fund."