Updated 09/11/2012 10:53 PM
Soldier’s body returns home
Just nine days after dying in Afghanistan in a non-combat related incident, 23-year-old Oswego native Kyle Rookey's body returned home to the Port City Tuesday night. Hundreds lined the streets to pay their final respects to the fallen soldier in a night filled with sadness and reflection. Our Candace Hopkins reports.
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OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. -- Tuesday night marked the final trip home for Army Specialist Kyle Rookey as hundreds lined the street to honor his sacrifice and say goodbye.
"My heart and prayers go out to the Rookey family,” Terry Baum said. “I just want to let them know they're in my thoughts and prayers and I know how hard it is when your son is deployed or your daughter is deployed."
Baum, whose own son served in Afghanistan, joined countless other residents on East First Street to show her support for the Rookey family, while reflecting on her own son's service.
"He returned home safely. We are very lucky,” Baum said. “A lot of soldiers don't come back. We were lucky that our son did come back."
The crowd was filled with many others who never knew Rookey, but felt compelled to wave a flag or simply salute as his body passed by.
"It's the respect that any serviceman deserves and it doesn't matter whether they’re from Oswego or from another city or country or anything, any servicemen or woman who is fighting for their country, it is definitely a well deserved respect," Linda Fuller said.
The procession was made up of law enforcement and the Patriot Guard Riders, a group including many veterans who wanted to give Kyle Rookey a very special arrival home from, one that was different from what they received decades ago.
"I don't want veterans to be treated like they were 40 years ago during Vietnam and it's the right thing to do," said Bob Kenyon, a Patriot Guard Rider and veteran.
And in the end, Rookey’s sacrifice inspired many to simply count their own blessings.
Baum said, "Just hug your children every night, that they're home with you and safe."
The calling hours for Kyle Rookey will be held Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Dain-Cullinan Funeral Home in Oswego. They are open to the public.
A private funeral will be held Thursday.