Body Of East Texas Soldier Killed In Iraq Arrives Back Home - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/20/07-Athens

Body Of East Texas Soldier Killed In Iraq Arrives Back Home

It was a very emotional sight Thursday afternoon as the body of an Athens soldier is flown back to East Texas.  Christopher McCloud, 24 was killed last week in Iraq.  He died when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by a roadside bomb.  Now, a week later, McCloud's family asked KLTV 7 to be there as his body was escorted back home.  

It was almost as if the world came to a stop, just for a moment.   Silence, as family and friends of McCloud watched his casket appear from inside the plane, to the hands of Fort Hood's Honor Guard.

"He is a hero, and he was doing everything he could and standing for what that meant," said McCloud's wife, Sheena McCloud.  In an earlier interview, Sheena McCloud talked about McCloud's love for the military, and how enlisting in the Army almost a year ago was something McCloud knew he had to do.

"He wanted to be a role model for his kids," said Sheena McCloud.  "After 9/11 he felt that it was his duty to be over there, to make sure his kids were going to be safe and were going to grow up and be free."  The word freedom is why many stood by Thursday afternoon with American flags, watching as McCloud's body was escorted from Tyler to Athens.

"It's the only thing we can to show our respects." said Tyler resident Nancy Elmore.  "I just really respect that he was willing to sacrifice his life for our country."  

"We appreciate everything that your brother, or son has done and the freedoms we take advantage of each day," said Tyler resident Tammy Wickelman.  For more than 30 miles, the Patriot Guard Riders and Henderson County Sheriff's Deputies stayed with McCloud's body.  It was a visual reminder to everyone that passed by of the sacrifice McCloud made for his country.

"It has nothing to do with the support of the war, or non-support of the war," said Patriot Guard Rider Louis Mcginty.  "It has got to do with the young man, or woman and show the families we respect the love that they had for that lost individual. 

Before McCloud left for Iraq in May, Sheena McCloud says she remembers telling her husband one thing. "I just made him promise me to come home," said Sheena McCloud.  Today, McCloud is home, this time Sheena McCloud says a local hero who will never be forgotten.

Funeral arrangements for McCloud have been finalized tonight.  It will be Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Athens.

Molly Reuter, Reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

 

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