Community gives final salute to fallen soldier
This Veterans Day, many are taking a moment to thank those who have fought and those who currently serve our country.
As YNN's Kate McGowan reports, the Alden community spent the day honoring a fallen soldier and making sure he will never be forgotten.
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ALDEN, N.Y. -- With heavy hearts, many gathered in Cheektowaga to welcome home a Western New York fallen soldier.
The body of Specialist Brett Gornewicz arrived Sunday morning. The 27-year-old was killed in Afghanistan after enemy forces attacked his unit with an explosive device. Two of his military brothers also died in the attack.
"To have to be here today and see one of our young sons brought home this way, it's going to be a very emotional day for the family and emotional day for all of those involved," said a Patriot Guard member.
A procession of Patriot Guard riders followed behind his flag draped casket, as Gornewicz made the final trip home.
Hundreds stood along Broadway in the Village of Alden to salute him and mourn this tragedy.
"He was a very quiet boy and always polite and sincere. We're just bringing him home now to Alden," exclaimed family friend, Mary Clare Smith.
Where the flag flies half staff, members of the Alden community came out to pay their final respect to this hometown hero.
"Just a great hero, a great friend. Grew up together and loved him as our own son," said Paul Jarmusz. "There's not enough I could do to repay him for giving his life for us."
Gornewicz, a Buffalo State graduate, was on his second tour overseas when he was killed. He previously fought in Iraq.
Those who knew him well said he always had a special affection for the Army.
"He was the G.I. Joe guy of the neighborhood and he enjoyed serving his country well," Smith said.
With Veterans Day on the minds of many, Gornewicz's final homecoming held a special place in the hearts of his family and his friends.
A Patriot Guard member commented, "Today is a day to honor all veterans but it's an extra special honor to be honoring Brett today."
Calling hours were held for Gornewicz Sunday afternoon. A funeral for him will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday at Saint John's Roman Catholic Church in Alden.