WILKES COUNTY, N.C. -- Fallen North Carolina soldier Sgt. Dillon Baldridge has returned home.
Baldridge, 22, was killed in Afghanistan on June 10 after a member of the Afghan army opened fire. His obituary states that he was born July 18, 1994, in Raleigh and grew up in Youngsville. The Department of Defense announced that 29-year-old Sgt. William M. Bays of Barstow, California, and 25-year-old Sgt. Eric M. Houck of Baltimore, Maryland, were killed in the same attack.
Baldridge, who was posthumously promoted from corporal to sergeant, was flown into the Wilkes County Airport at about 1 p.m. Wednesday. His procession led from the airport, through North Wilkesboro and ended in Ashe County.
Hundreds lined the route to pay their respects.
“My children, I want them to see how valuable the sacrifice of these men and women is,” said Korri Wood, who watched as the procession passed. “I’m very appreciative of anybody who would be so brave and selfless to go fight for our country.”
Fellow service members also stood by, following tradition with a salute to honor the fallen.
“Historically shown as a way to show your hand, that you don’t have any weapons in your hands for that soldier, to show that you’re a friend,” said United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Adam Mahaffey.
Baldridge’s legacy – already cemented in American history – continues to grow, inspiring young Americans to consider serving in the military themselves.
“It’s really important to me because of that,” 17-year-old Courtney Settle said.
A Baldridge family spokesperson tells FOX that his memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Ashe County High School. A graveside service will follow for family and military.
Baldridge is survived by his mother, Tina Palmer, and father, Christopher Baldridge. Also mourning his passing are his stepfather Tom Palmer, stepmother, Jessie Baldridge, and siblings Zachary Palmer, Isabel Palmer, Ethan Baldridge, Lucas Baldridge and Shelby Baldridge.