Community gathers for Central Georgia soldier killed in Afghanistan
Thousands of people in Putnam County waived American flags and lined the streets to honor the dignified transfer of 21-year-old Army Specialist Erica Alecksen, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan on July 8.
"It's taken a long time to get her back here, but I'll be glad to be able to have her home," said Alecksen's mother Doria.
Aleckson's body arrived at the airport in Greensboro around 1 p.m. Wednesday, greeted by family members, Patriot Guard Riders, and Putnam County community members lining the procession route to the soldiers hometown of Eatonton.
"In the back of my head and in the bottom of my heart, I think my daughter is saying 'it's time this community came together and I'm going to bring you all together now'," Doria Alecksen said.
Alecksen and five other soldiers were killed in Afghanistan July 8 when the vehicle they were riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. Alecksen's father Lars says she was a model soldier, who always had a smile on her face.
"She had a very strong sense of self belief, and self respect, and she had that same belief and respect from other people, everyone she met," Lars Alecksen said." I'm just hoping that her story gets out to everybody, you know it touches people in different ways, and it's usually somebody else, or it's somebody in a different town, or
a different state and when it reaches down right to the core of your community, everybody , not just myself, is really personally involved and feels the shock of how bad it can influence you."
"There is no doubt, she will never be forgotten, never be forgotten," Doria Alecksen said.
Erica Alecksen is the third woman from Georgia to be killed in combat since the 2003 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. People in Eatonton say she is the first soldier from their town to be killed.