GREENVILLE - For retired Navy man Bill Weiszberod, the return of another fallen soldier from combat is tough. Having served during World War II, he understands the hardships soldiers undertake and the emotional toll it can have on a family.
And Weiszberod still understands, as do many Americans, the need to honor our veterans, past and present.
“I’ve met every one of our fallen soldiers that have come into this airport,” Wesizberod said.
On Monday, he was one of hundreds to greet the motorcade of 23-year-old Sgt. Tanner Higgins. The Yantis native and 2007 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School was killed on April 14 in Afghanistan.
“It stirs up not good memories and it breaks my heart to think we’re losing these young men.”
Higgins’ body was flown into Majors Field Municipal Airport. The subsequent motorcade included dozens of local emergency vehicles as well as over 100 Freedom Riders. He was transported to Wood County where services are scheduled Tuesday at Lake Fork Baptist Church.
“I think it’s a good thing that people turn out to recognize this young man. I know the last time one came through they even turned out the school out here and the young kids came out,” Wesizberod added, referring to Lamar Elementary School across the street.
A few minutes later, hundreds of kindergarten through fifth grade students came pouring out to line the roadway, equipped with hand-written notes thanking Sgt. Higgins for his service.
Positioning flags further south along Jack Finney Boulevard were Leo Farmer and his neighbor, Barbara Bench.
“Still love the veterans,” Farmer said. “I was doing service during the Korean War. And every year we’re here.”
Higgins has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Purple Heart.
High school classmates of Higgins are planning to honor him by purchasing a plaque or a brick paver in his name for the Hopkins County Veterans Memorial. The Sulphur Springs High School Class of 2007 is also selling bracelets with his name engraved, with the proceeds going to his widow, Shelby. Those can be purchased at the law offices of Powers and Blount and the Cardile Chiropractic clinic on Oak Avenue.
You can view Higgins' obituary here.