Pike County Welcomes Home Soldier For Final Time

By
WOUB Staff Writer

Dateline
Updated Sun, Jun 22, 2014 7:05 am
Army Spc. Justin Helton

It was a bittersweet return home for a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Justin Helton's sacrifice has touched the lives of people in Pike County, Ohio and beyond.

It was an emotional Saturday afternoon in Waverly, Ohio, as people welcomed Army Specialist Justin Helton home for the last time.

Flags lined the streets and the sound of motorcycles held deeper meaning in Waverly, as the procession for the 25-year-old Army Specialist caught the tear-filled eyes of so many.

"He gave a lot for us. If it had poured down the rain, I had still wanted to come," said Brenda Zimmerman.

Zimmerman shares a lot of heartache. She's a former lunch lady at a school Justin attended.

"It means so much to me and my family to know that he gave his life for all of us," said Zimmerman.

Justin is one of five soldiers killed in the line of duty earlier this month.

Military officials believe they were hit by friendly fire during an airstrike in southern Afghanistan.

He'd only been there about two months and a soldier since 2010.

Rebecca Greene knew him well.

"In the army, I don't think he lost his sense of humor," said Greene.

She grew up just down the road from him.

Though this loss is especially painful, she's also filled with gratitude.

"There's no greater love than what a man can do, than lay down his life for his friends and we're indebted to him forever," said Greene.

Many in Pike County showed their own support for Justin and his family.

The procession touched people who had never met him and some who knew him all too well.

"One man's service when it's cut short like this can affect so many," said Waverly Mayor, Greg Kempton.

For these people, the healing has only begun.

"We don't really like this, but there's nothing we can do, you've got to show your respect for the kid that gave it all," said Stephen Adams.

The procession ended at Boyer's Funeral Home in Waverly for a private visitation.

WSAZ.com has learned his body will be transported Sunday to his hometown of Beaver, Ohio for a public visitation at Eastern High School.

A funeral is set for Monday at the high school.

We're told Justin was the first soldier from Pike County, Ohio to die since the Vietnam War.

This article contributed by WSAZ.com

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