Pfc. Cale Miller died in combat in Afghanistan on May 24. The 23-year-old was an Olathe native.
Miller was deployed with the Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.
On Monday, his body returned to the Kansas City area. Miller and his family received an incredible show of support and appreciation for his service and sacrifice during the somber homecoming.
"We want the family to know how much we support them and love them. And we appreciate their sacrifice, and their son will never be forgotten," said Mikayla Dreyer, organizer of Community 4 Cale.
It was a beautiful and overwhelming show of support, as hundreds of families lined up along 151st Street, holding dozens of flags and signs.
Many families wore red, white and blue as they stood in support of Miller, who graduated from Olathe Northwest in 2007.
"I'm proud of your son and your soldier," said George Chesney, a veteran of the Marine Corps.
The Patriot Guard joined the Olathe police and fire departments in escorting his body from New Century airport to the Penwell-Gable funeral home on Black Bob Road.
"Our young brothers and sisters are fighting for our country in a faraway place and we have to remember that and show them the honor and respect they are due and for the job they are carrying out over there. And when they fall we have to recognize that," Vietnam veteran Robert Kobler said.
Many people came out on Monday who never met Miller, but wanted to support the brave soldier and his family.
"My heart goes out to the family. Debbie is my boss. She works for human services and my heart goes out to her and the entire family. Cale did an honorable thing and it breaks our heart, but we know something good will come out of this," family friend Sharon Moore said.
Some, though, in the crowd were strangers. Robert Kobler, a veteran of the Vietnam War, traveled from Leavenworth County with his grandchildren.
"We want to show them the honor and respect they are due and for the job they are carrying out over there," Kobler said. "And when they fall, we have to recognize that."
His twin grandchildren were touched by Miller's sacrifice.
"I'm sad," said Laura Lammers-Meis, 9.
"We want to honor the man who died and who fought for our freedom," said Jacob Lammers-Meis.
Organizers of Monday's event are raising money to create a special memorial bench for Miller. If anyone would like to learn more about that effort and make a donation, there is a Community 4 Cale Facebook page set up with more information. Click here to view the page.
The community was also invited to a celebration of life ceremony Wednesday at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe. Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered that flags across Kansas fly at half-staff Wednesday.
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