KIEL, Wis. – The hundreds of people who lined the main street of a small Indiana city Saturday fell solemnly silent as a white hearse passed by on its way to the church. Mourners streamed into a Wisconsin gymnasium to remember the soldier who once said she alone could take on Osama bin Laden.
Across the country, many stood before several flag-draped coffins during funeral services for several of the 13 victims of the Nov. 5 shootings in Fort Hood, Texas.
In Plymouth, Ind. Sheila Ellabarger had placed two foot-high American flags in the grass where she watched the procession for Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow. She said her children went to school with DeCrow and his wife — his high school sweetheart — and she knew other members of his family.
"He was killed by a terrorist in my mind but he was still killed in the line of duty. We owe him a debt of gratitude, him and his family and the other soldiers. We owe them our lives, our freedom," she said.
During services in Norman, Okla., snapshots from U.S. Army Spc. Jason Dean Hunt's recent wedding were projected near his casket. The 22-year-old was described as a loving husband and family man as well as a soldier who left a legacy of selflessness and service.
Ross Ridge, the deputy commanding general at Fort Sill, asked Hunt's family to be assured that the military community was grieving with them.
Mourners in Kiel, Wis. packed into the high school gymnasium Saturday for Krueger's funeral. A visitation had been held there Friday evening where Krueger, 29, was remembered as a determined, energetic young woman.
She joined the U.S. Army Reserves after the 2001 terrorist attacks and vowed to hunt down bin Laden. When her mother said she couldn't do it alone, the soldier defiantly told her, "Watch me."
Krueger was to deploy to Afghanistan for a second time in December and had recently arrived at Fort Hood for training. She had been studying psychology at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and was a mental health specialist who wanted to help soldiers cope with combat stress.
"Her smile would light up any room, her energy would envelope all of those around her," her parents, Jeri and David Krueger, said in a statement. "It is that smile and that energy that keeps us going throughout this difficult time."
She was what they call "Army Proud." Krueger always wore a U.S. Army hat or shirt around town and sported a tattoo that had a tattered American flag and read: "All gave some. Some gave all. Sacrifice."
Funerals also were planned Saturday for Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, a psychiatric nurse who worked for San Diego County, Calif.; and Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill.; Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah.
Utah's congressional delegation, governor and the president of the Mormon church were among those expected to attend services for Nemelka, an Eagle Scout who carried on a family tradition by joining the Army a little more than a year ago.
"Aaron was a man of few words but deep feelings and a gentle disposition," according to an obituary in Salt Lake City newspapers. "His beautiful smile and cheerful, fun-loving personality endeared him to his many friends and family members."