By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
LONGVIEW,TX (KLTV)- An east Texas soldiers body returned home late last night, and his homecoming was almost overlooked, if it had not been for a small group, decided how to honor his return. On a dark stretches of east Texas roads, about 2 dozen patriot guard riders paid their respects to the returning body of 33 year old army sergeant Joe Lee Dietz by escorting him all the way to his hometown of Henderson.
"Its always important for us to be here when we loose one of our own especially with this boy being from Henderson a hometown boy," said patriot guard rider Sheila Manning.
Dietz served three tours in Iraq, and died at his base in fort Carson Colorado, the details of which the army has not released. That didn't matter to guard members.
"No matter what war or what era or what age that's irrelevant, no veteran's going to be forgotten," said rider and marine corps veteran Mike Eubanks.
But to the guard only one thing mattered, being there for his return.
"It doesn't matter what day it is, it doesn't matter what time it is, if the plane comes in midnight we're there, if it comes in at two in the morning we're there," Eubanks says.
They escorted him from Love field in Dallas, through small county roads, often with police escorts and salutes along the way. Guard members made sure Dietz had a clear way home. The patriots wanted to make sure that his last ride wouldn't be a lonely one.
"We do it for all of our veterans to be sure that none of them are forgotten," said one rider.
Funeral services for sergeant Dietz are scheduled for 2 PM Monday at Crawford-Crim funeral home chapel in Henderson.