Altavista, VA - The body of Staff Sergeant Greg Copes arrived around noon Friday, exactly one week after he and another member of the military were shot and killed by an Afghan police officer.
Dozens of people watched in somber silence as the hearse carried Staff Sgt. Copes down Main Street, to Finch & Finch Funeral Home.
Copes, who was deployed to Afghanistan in January, was supposed to return home from duty in just 10 days.
Flags flew at half staff, signs said simply "remember."
"We would rather have had a ticker tape parade for him coming home on his discharge," said Philip Little, clutching an American Flag.
"This is not the first one of these events I've had to go to. They're never fun," said Gordon Farrell, wearing a U.S. Navy hat.
Copes landed at the Lynchburg Airport and the 18 mile procession to Altavista began. The caravan of flashing lights made its way down Main Street and the fallen marine and father of four made it back home.
"He was so dedicated, so dedicated," said Arlene Thomas, who worked with Copes' later mother.
"Any man that goes overseas and fights for our country and lays down his life for our fellow Americans, he should be honored," added Philips.
Some know the hometown hero from Hargrave Military Academy, John Banyi just knows the sacrifice.
"In the military we have an invisible bond and when one goes down it gets felt throughout," Banyi explained shortly after the procession.
As the hearse pulled into Finch & Finch Funeral home, Altavista remembers, sometimes the road back home is paved with sacrifice.