A moving tribute to fallen soldiers comes to North Texas




Posted on May 18, 2014 at 6:02 PM

MANSFIELD — Almost three years after Army Spc. Jesse Dietrich's public memorial, a beautiful motorcade led by a group of complete strangers stopped to honor a fallen hero.

Warren Williamson is executive director of Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest. "I cry at every one of them... I do... because every family is different. Every situation, every fallen soldier, is different," he said.

Williamson said the tribute is honoring 16 fallen soldiers in North Texas, including five stops in Terrell, four in Weatherford and this one in Mansfield.

He said the home visits are a small gesture to let the families of soldiers know they will never be forgotten.

"It's our way of saying 'thank you,' and honoring their fallen hero," Williamson said.

Auneta Southern, who helps raise Dietrich's young son Kevin, said she will treasure every hug, handshake and kind word, and has a special place in mind for the distinguished service plaque her family received.

"I have a display case with Jesse's things in it — his cowboy hat and things like that — and I will put it in there with them," she said.

Karrie Champion, whose family was the first in North Texas to receive a fallen soldier home visit, said she was so impressed she joined the motorcade.

"This is part of my healing... part of my therapy of being around people that understand what I am dealing with and what I am going through," she said. "There is no judgment; there's no questions."

Just strangers being there for one another, long after the news cameras are gone.

E-mail sgables@wfaa.com