Hundreds Turn Out To Remember Fallen East Texas Soldier

An East Texas soldier is buried with full military honors. Specialist Dominic Hinton, 24, of Jacksonville, was killed in Iraq nearly two weeks ago. Hundreds of friends, family and even people who didn't know him turned out in his hometown to remember the life of this young hero.

"After 911 he said to Crystal his wife, 'I don't want to leave my family, but I want to defend my country. I want my two children to be able to play in the yard without fear.'" Hinton family friend, Pat Socia, says that's why Specialist Hinton joined the military.

On November 19th, Hinton was killed in Bayji. Specialist Hinton, a son, brother, husband, and father of two died just three days after his 24th birthday. Three of his fellow soldiers were also killed after they were hit by an explosion near their Humvee.

"It was really heart-breaking," said Melvin Socia. He and and his wife both had known Dominic for 12 years. They saw him just before he was deployed. "The last thing he said to us was, 'I'll see you later'," said Pat.

After the service at Autry Funeral Home this afternoon, Specialist Hinton's body was taken to his final resting place. Along the way, hundreds lined Highway 69, waving American flags, with their hands over their hearts.

Many of the people we spoke with had never met Hinton, but they wanted to thank him for protecting our freedom. "We feel like we've lost a brother even though I did not know Dominic. I feel like I've lost a relation. And we're saddened by that," said Jacksonville Mayor Robert Haberle. "We're proud of them and we're proud of all of our soldiers that are serving our country and we want to show our support," said Bea Johnson, one of the hundreds of people who lined the streets of Jacksonville.

At the Hinton Family Cemetery in Cove Springs, an honor guard from Ft. Campbell, KY performed the ceremony. A last image from today answer the question "why?". His family was presented with the American flag that draped his coffin.

After finishing his military duties in 18 months, Specialist Hinton was planning on going back to Jacksonville and getting into law enforcement.

Oralia Ortega reporting,