KOKOMO, Ind. (WLFI) - A fallen Marine was remembered Friday throughout an entire Howard County community.
American flags flew at half staff throughout Kokomo, as fallen Marine Sgt. Bradley Atwell returned home.
"We wanted to pay our respects to him for his sacrifice and to his family to let them know that we appreciate everything that they are going through and to open our hearts and send our prayers to them," Kokomo resident Heather Harvey said.
"Brad was a good guy and he'll be missed," friend of Marine Sgt. Bradley Atwell Allison Exmeier said. "He's a fallen hero and took the ultimate sacrifice, just prayers for his family."
Friends describe Marine Sgt. Bradley Atwell as the class clown. Someone who could light up a room with his million dollar smile.
"He was a great person and always smiling," Exmeier added. "If he was having a bad day, you'd never know. He was so goofy. That smile and laugh was so contagious. Those bright blue eyes he had. He was just a good guy."
An all around good guy, and forever a hometown hero. The 27-year-old former Taylor Titan from Kokomo was killed Sept. 14 while serving in Afghanistan.
Friday, other servicemen, hundreds of Patriot Guard riders and community members honored Marine Sergeant Atwell as the hearse carrying his body made its way through town.
"These servicemen and women are fighting for our country and we need to pay respect to them and tell them we are behind them all the way," Kokomo resident Dana Mussial said.
"It opens people's eyes to what is going on and the losses that families all across the country are experiencing all the time," Kokomo resident Steve Harvey said.
Flags flew at half staff. Pictures, flowers, balloons and even notes from children that read "Thank you for protecting me" painted the outside of Taylor High school.
"It's extremely important. I'm a complete stranger to him and he didn't think twice about enlisting," Heather Harvey said.
It was an emotional moment for Kokomo residents Steve and Heather Harvey.
The husband and wife said they didn't know the fallen Marine. However, they said one thing they did know is how important it was to honor someone who gave his all for their freedom.
"It just hit home," Heather Harvey said. "Our son is in San Diego and in a week he will graduate and become a Marine."
"Just remember him like this," Exmeier said. "He was always smiling, always happy. He would not want us to be dwelling."
But instead cherishing the memories, and keeping his spirit alive.
You can click here for a photo gallery of Friday's tribute to fallen Marine Sergeant Bradley Atwell.