Veterans share why every soldier deserves a welcome home celebration
RAVENSWOOD — It was almost 10 p.m. Red, white and blue flashing lights covered the ramp leading from Ritchie Bridge to Washington Street.
The public was only given a few hours notice for the return of Cpl. Pete Conley's remains to his family in West Virginia, but dozens lined Washington Street in Ravenswood and silently waved their American flags as the hearse drove by.
Conley fought in the Korean War and was from Logan, West Virginia, according to a video published on the Jackson County Sheriff's Department Facebook.
People of all ages lined Washington Street. Veterans who came out donned hats indicating what branch of the military they served in, and for some, what war they fought in.
George Gill, of Ravenswood, wore his Marine Corps League cover Tuesday night. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 11 years. He said it was an easy choice when he heard the news — he had to be there to honor a fellow veteran.
Patriotism means everything to Gill. So he grabbed all of the small American flags he could find and handed them out Tuesday night.
Charles Rector, of Ravenswood, wore a U.S. Army veteran hat and held a small American flag as he reminisced on his time in uniform.
He was stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. He said he "lost" a soldier in his last tour. His voice got shaky and his eyes watery. He's seen how a soldier's death affects a family.
"It's a miracle that he was identified," Rector said. "The fact he's coming home means a lot — it's pretty touching."
— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.