(Beaver, OH) -- The body of Army Specialist Justin Helton has returned to his hometown in Pike County.
A plane carrying Helton's remains landed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base around noon Saturday. A procession including law enforcement, more than 1,000 motorcycles, Helton's body and his family then went south down U.S. 23.
"We want to bring him home to what I call a glorious homecoming," said Kris Rowe, a long-time family friend. "He gave his all to us and that's the least we could do for him."
"We all come together. This is our soldier. He's part of us," said Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Pickaway County Veterans Services Office. She says they wanted to show the Helton family that they appreciate Justin's sacrifice for his country and that they support the family. "I've got four boys serving myself and I could never imagine losing a child and what a large sacrifice that whole family has made for our country and how wonderfully grateful we are to them," she said.
"There's not one of us that rides in one of these missions that does not have tears falling out of their eyes and down their cheeks through the entire route," said Randy Davies, a captain with the Patriot Guard Riders.
He says the community support seen already has been overwhelming. "I'm not sure that there's a flag for sale anywhere south of Columbus."
More than 1,200 flags were being placed along the highway through Circleville. In Pike County, the community lined the road from Waverly to Eastern High School in Beaver, where the funeral will be held, Monday, with more than 4,000 flags.