TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The body of an East Texas soldier killed in Iraq arrived home Friday.
Army Specialist Alex Missildine was killed on October first when an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated near his convoy in a northern province of Iraq.
His body arrived Friday afternoon at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport where family, community members, and the East Texas Patriot Guard Riders awaited his arrival.
"Our sole purpose is to honor the veterans and first responders. We do that by flag lines and motorcycle escorts," says Steve Conger, the rider's captain. "We're here to honor Alex."
"He served, you know, on my behalf," says Gwynee Reeves, a community member. "I wanted the family to know that there are those of us that appreciate that."
While the riders gathered at the airport, ready to provide an escort on the way to the funeral home, others gathered down the road, ready to stand and salute, when Missildine and the riders drove by.
"As Americans, we need to stand by our people that fight for us every day," says community member Kay Sparks. "They put their lives on the line."
Reeves drove over an hour to be there today, saying it was the least she could do.
"I know this has got to be hard on the family," says Reeves. "I'm sorry I didn't know your son, I shed tears for him but, it's just showing support."
Conger, a former veteran himself, says riding in the guard can take an emotional toll, but the reward is worth it.
"It's not a natural thing to go to funerals," says Conger. "It's just not what's on the top of your list, but this is what we're committed to do, and we want to make sure that the service people get the respect and the honor that they deserve."
The Patriot Guard Riders say they will also be present at visitation and funeral services for Missildine.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Green Acres Baptist Church chapel.