Just one day after President Obama announced he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the body of an Illinois soldier who was killed in that war-torn country was brought back to his hometown Crystal Lake.
Students, friends and townspeople lined the streets of Crystal Lake -- sometimes 3 deep with flags and hands over hearts -- as the body of Sgt. Jason A. McLeod arrived home.
McLeod's body was flown to DuPage County Airport this morning, where a procession led by local police and fire departments accompanied him to Davenport Funeral Home. He was killed on Nov. 23, during a mortar attack in the southern Afghan town of Pashmul.
The 22-year-old soldier had been deployed to Afghanistan in May. He was assigned to the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, and was due to return home to his wife and 15-month-old daughter for leave in less than a month.
McLeod's parents, wife and other relatives followed behind the hearse with members of the Illinois Patriot Guard as their motorcycle escort.
"It's very sad," said one family member, though most delcined to speak to reporters, and asked that no photographs be taken of McLeod's casket.
Ryan Alvarez, a student standing outside Crystal Lake Central High School and watching the procession, said "it was a range of emotions...the family seemed happy to see us there, and proud...we were proud of Jason too...but also sad."
A 2006 graduate from Crystal Lake Central High School, McLeod received numerous awards while in the army, including the Army Commendation Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
His funeral is scheduled for Friday.