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A Solemn Homecoming

Huge Turnout for Procession for J. D. Emard

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — A local soldier, killed while serving in Iraq, returned home Thursday, June 12, 2008, after first stopping at Greenville's Majors Field Municipal Airport.

The body of US Army Specialist Jonathan D. “J. D.” Emard of Poetry was greeted by a huge turnout of area residents, many of whom carried flags as they lined the path of a motorcade which transported Emard to Anderson-Clayton Brothers Funeral Home in Terrell. Funeral services for Emard are scheduled for 11:00 AM, June 13, 2008, at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall.

His parents, David Emard and Debbie Emard, thanked everyone who has offered their prayers and wishes during the past few days.

“Just your full support, that’s all we need for now,” David said.

“It has been overwhelming, all of the support,” Debbie added.

Emard, 20, was an Airborne Ranger with the 1-87 Infantry Battalion 10th Mountain Division and was one of three soldiers from the division killed last Wednesday, June 4, 2008, when they were engaged by enemy forces with small-arms fire and hand grenades while their unit was assaulting a building near Hawijah, Iraq.

The Emard family has strong ties to Hunt County. Emard played football at Quinlan Ford High School before transferring to Boles High School, where he also played football. Officials with the Boles ISD said Emard had recently visited the campus prior to his deployment to Iraq.

Emard was born in Dallas and joined the Army in March 2006 at the age of seventeen.

Boles ISD Superintendent Graham Sweeney was among several members of the district’s administration who was on hand for Thursday’s arrival. Hunt County Commissioners Kenneth Thornton and Phillip Martin also attended, as did Greenville Mayor Tom Oliver and City Manager Steven Alexander.

A large contingent from L-3 Communications Integrated Systems also was present, as were Mary Childers and Tammie Hines, who brought Colby Gore, Childers’ grandson — Hines’s son — to the ceremony in order to pass along the lesson that freedom comes with a price.

“Protecting our country is a serious business,” Childers said. “We brought him out to pay tribute to our country.”

David Emard said his son’s unit had produced a video of the funeral services which were conducted in Iraq. The family, though the funeral home, was also producing a video of the services being conducted stateside to send to the division.

A jet from Kalitta Flying Service landed at the airport shortly after 11:00 AM Thursday, where honor guards comprised of local and area veterans, as well as from the Greenville Police Department, waited in respectful silence. Within moments, Emard’s casket was removed from the plane and placed into a hearse in order to make the journey south to the funeral home.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders volunteer motorcycle group also helped lead the procession, which had to make a last minute change in route.

A major traffic accident forced the closure of a portion of State Highway 34 Thursday morning, resulting in the motorcade taking FM 2101 to FM 1564 before taking Highway 34 south in order to work around the closure. One of the vehicles which had reportedly stopped along Highway 34 in anticipation of the procession was involved in the accident.

June 13, 2008, The Greenville Herald Banner

Submitted by Sarah Swindell

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