It was a rare moment of silence on a busy city workday.
The roar of jet engines halted at the airport. The distant rumble of artillery fire at Fort Carson paused. A spring rain held off and Pikes Peak emerged from the gloom. Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay was home.
Lindsay, 33, died March 22 in Afghanistan and was greeted in Colorado Springs with stoic silence as generals, an admiral and more than 50 of his comrades from Fort Carson’s 10th Special Forces Group stood at attention while his coffin was moved from a charter plane to a hearse at Peterson Air Force Base.
Traffic stopped on some of the most frenetic streets in southern Colorado Springs for a long procession led by local police and deputies and trailed by dozens of rumbling motorcycles topped by military veterans.
It was a fitting tribute for a bemedaled sergeant who had faced combat in Iraq on five tours before his final duty in Afghanistan, picking up the military’s Bronze Star four times along the way. It was matched by similar rites a few hours earlier in southern Ohio for Fort Carson Spc. Joseph Collette, 29, a bomb disposal technician from the 71st Ordnance Group who died alongside Lindsay during a firefight with Taliban insurgents in Kunduz province, north of Kabul.
The two were the first Fort Carson soldiers killed in 2019. They fell during a push to roll back the Taliban amid peace negotiations to end the 17-year-old war.
Funeral arrangements haven’t been announced for Lindsay, a Colorado native. A funeral for Collette is planned for Friday in Ohio.
Lindsay came home in a flag-draped casket carried by five stout Green Beret sergeants and a lieutenant. Top leaders from the region’s five military bases in dress uniform rendered a long salute to Lindsay.
There was a brief moment that exposed the sadness of it all at Peterson as family members crowded near the hearse, hugging each other to stay upright amid the military pomp and ceremony.
Amid visible but silent tears, his wife laid her hands on the flag atop Lindsay’s polished casket before she headed to a limousine trailed by family, including two of four daughters who wore matching black gowns.
The lack of visible emotion from the troops hid something they kept bottled up inside, admitted Staff. Sgt. Tim Williams, a member of the Peterson Air Force Base Honor Guard that carried flags for the planeside ceremony.
They show that stiffness and resolve and hold back the tears to show the kind of bravery that Lindsay demonstrated in the face of enemy fire, Williams said.
“Today, there were many senior leaders out there, but not a bit of what we did was for them to see us doing our job,” he said. “We consider Sgt. 1st Class Lindsay family.”
© 2019 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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