Friday, January 27, 2012


Centerville, Iowa is a quaint little town of some 5,500 people located in the southern part of the state.  To date, it's most notable native has been opera star Simon Estes.  But that might change.

Last week, Master Sergeant Travis Riddick was killed in action in Afghanistan.  His death has impacted this area and beyond.  It is a particularly proud feeling we should all have to see the community's response in honoring Riddick's sacrifice.  Yesterday we began to see visible proof.  Here is a story from the town's newspaper, the Daily Ioweigan.

"Between 250-300 people came to the Centerville Fire Department Thursday afternoon to take part in placing 2,200 American flags along the route the body of fallen Centerville Marine Master Sgt. Travis W. Riddick's body will travel.

The flags were made possible by Larry Eckhardt of Little York, Ill. Eckhardt has earned the title of "The Flagman."

The unloading began...
Eckhardt said he has been lining streets with American flags for fallen military members for six years. In 2011, Eckhardt traveled to 20 cities and so far this year he has gone to five.

"I think you can be real proud of your town and your area," Eckhardt said. "I can't thank you enough to see all of these young people here."

American flags were placed on both sides of Highway 5 approximately 18-feet apart Thursday afternoon, the route Master Sgt. Riddick's body is expected to travel coming into Centerville Friday afternoon. From the northern edge of Centerville flags line Highway 5 to Lange Funeral Home, which is near the southern edge of town. American flags now line Wall Street to Simon Estes Auditorium at the Centerville High School, where funeral service's for Riddick will be held Sunday at 2 p.m.

Eckhardt said the flags will remain in place until 4 p.m. Sunday, after the funeral sevices have ended.

Centerville native Master Sgt. Riddick, 40, was killed Thursday, Jan. 19 in a helicopter crash in Helmand province, Afghanistan, along with five other Marines".
An Image to Remember
In addition to the town's tribute, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad released this press release on Thursday. 

"Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. on Friday, January 27th until 8 a.m. on Monday, January 30th, 2012, in honor of Marine Corps Master Sgt. Travis Riddick, 40, formerly of Centerville, Iowa.
Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.

Master Sgt. Riddick is survived by his wife, Jennifer Riddick; six children, Victoria Riddick and Levi Riddick and Charles Lovelace, Matt Lovelace, James Lovelace and Zachary Lovelace; his parents, John and Barbara Riddick; and two brothers, Tim and Troy Riddick.

The U.S. flag flown over the state Capitol on the day of the funeral will be presented to Master Sgt. Riddick’s family at a later date, along with a proclamation honoring him".
I can visualize so much more to this coming Sunday.  I can see the Patriot Guard Riders on site with their motorcycles and flags......and hundreds lining the streets as the funeral procession rolls on.....and I can picture people moved to remember this day for the rest of their lives.

R.I.P. Master Sergeant Travis Riddick.


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