SLIDESHOW: Patriot Guard escorts fallen East Texas airmanMore >>
MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) -
It was a long trek home for an East Texas Air Force serviceman who died after a tragic accident. The body of 20-year-old Airman First Class Rickey Wagoner was escorted home from Dallas to Marshall by Patriot Guard members. Wagoner, a Linden resident, died as a result of an accident while on duty in Hawaii. Hundreds of Patriot Guard members gathered at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport in the dark hours of the morning to pay their respects to Wagoner.
"His father is a retired Master Sergeant, his two twin brothers are in the army. It's a military family, and this military family has dedicated their lives to serving the United States and this young man was no different," says Patriot Guard Ride Captain Mike Eubank of Longview.
The Linden native suffered massive trauma from a fall from an aircraft hangar in Hawaii , and was in a coma for weeks before passing away last weekend.
"He was active duty, he could have been called at any time to the combat arena. They signed their name at the bottom of the paper also, he was special," Eubank says.
All along the route home, police and fire departments paid their respects by stopping their vehicles.
"Its a sad and tragic thing , but it does happen. He gets the respect and honor they all deserve, and the families get to see that respect and honor," says Eubank.
Though he was not a combat casualty, the Patriot Guard believes all who serve should be given equal honor.
"As long as there is a Patriot Guard , they're will never be another soldier, Marine, Navy, airman or Coast Guard person that will not be honored," Eubank says.
Wagoner will be laid to rest Monday at Northwest Louisiana National Cemetery with full military honors.
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