Whitewright soldier killed in action returns home - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Whitewright soldier killed in action returns home

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DENISON -- The body of a Texoma soldier killed overseas returned home Thursday.

It was a show of respect for a soldier who gave it all.

"He put his life on the line for America," Patriot Guard Rider Charles Zikowsky said.

Thursday, a jet brought home Private First Class Christian Chandler. The plane arrived at the North Texas Regional Airport at 11:20am.

But it's not the kind of homecoming anyone wanted.

The 20-year-old was killed when his unit was attacked in Afghanistan on April 28, 2014. His mother, Rhonda Chandler Beazley, says support from the community has been overwhelming.

"I cannot find words to express my gratitude. It means so much," she said through tears.

Weather caused some last-minute changes to Thursday's ceremony. The jet was supposed to park on the tarmac outside the main terminal. Instead it was brought inside a hangar.

Despite the arrangements, the rain stopped for a short time while members of the military placed Chandler's coffin in the back of a hearse. Then, just like that, the rain began falling again. "It was tears from heaven," Beazley said.

Patriot Guard Riders led the procession route through Grayson County. Hundreds turned out with flags and umbrellas in hand.

"I felt compelled to come here today," Eric Nelson said. "The young boy was the same age as my middle son."

Students at schools along the route were handed flags, too, and allowed to leave class to watch the convoy go by.

"I came out here mainly for respect," 11th grader Roberto Alvarado said. "It really is, it just comes to that."

The procession passed through Tom Bean, Whitewright, then Bells, where children and adults held flags. For some, the feeling was too big to explain.

"I don't know that I can describe it," veteran John Ramsey said. "You just feel a real sadness within you that such a young person had to give their life. They did it for us."

Chandlers mother says her biggest request in this entire process was to have the chance to see her son's face one more time. Thursday, she did and will soon say her final goodbye when Chandler returns home to Whitewright one last time.

"When we rolled into Whitewright, there was this big clap of thunder and I was like, 'We're home. I  finally brought him home,'" Beazley said.

Chandler's funeral services will be held at a Mullican-Little Funeral Home in Bells on Saturday at 2pm.

He'll be buried in Whitewright.