Fallen Terrell soldier receives heartfelt homecoming

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by CRAIG CIVALE / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 25, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 26 at 3:10 AM

For the second time in a month, residents in the small community of Terrell are remembering one of their own lost in the war.

The body of Spc. Joseph Michael Lewis, 26, was flown home Wednesday to a hero's welcome.

Hundreds of residents holding flags lined the streets and stood silently as the hearse passed by in honor of the fallen soldier, who died last week while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

"It was very humbling," said the soldier's father, Mike Lewis. "I'm sure he's up there watching us, and he's very happy all these people turned out for his celebration. We're celebrating his life because that's the way he wanted it."

The soldier's mother was overwhelmed by the signs of support, and overcome by the grief.

"Our family is heartbroken but he did what he wanted to do," said his mother, Pam Lewis. "He was a very brave, brave man. We love him and we're going to miss him terribly."

Spc. Lewis leaves behind a wife, a 5-month-old daughter, and his extended family: the Terrell community, which shared in the pain.

 "My heart aches for the families," one resident said.

Some of those who gathered to honor Lewis were friends. Some simply worked downtown. Others, like Yvetta Ransom, extended her support but showed her concern for her own daughter, who is serving overseas in the Army.

"It's really hard because this community could be standing -- it could be my daughter," Ransom said. "It could actually be my daughter they're bringing in today."

Spc. Lewis's nickname was "G.I. Joe" because he loved the military, a longtime friend said.

"He served his country very well, and everybody should be very, very proud of him," said childhood friend Matthew Allgood, who joined the Army with Lewis out of high school.

It is a pride seen through the men and woman who honor his memory in a city that's had its share of heartache and loss. Spc. Lewis is the fifth person from Terrell to die in combat since 2004.

"I hope and pray this is the last time we have to stand on this sidewalk, except when all of them come home," said resident Danny Booth.

Services for Spc. Lewis are scheduled for this weekend.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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