Community reaches out to family of fallen soldier - FOX Carolina 21

Community reaches out to family of fallen soldier

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EASLEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas of Easley was one of three National Guard members who died in a suicide bomb attack last week. He left behind a wife and a 2-and-a-half-year-old son.

Thomas' body should be returned to South Carolina this week, his funeral arrangements haven't been announced at this time.

His story has touched many people, even those who he never actually met. According to some community members, his legacy is inspiring others to make a difference.

Thomas' parents live in Easley, and their neighborhood wanted to send them a special message to let them know they aren't alone.

Jacqueline Graham had never met Brad Thomas or his parents, but got emotional when she first heard the heartbreaking news.

"My mailman told me, my heart sunk," Graham said. "You hear about it on the news all the time, but this particular story just really hit me hard."

She and a group of other neighbors decided it was time to take action.

"I thought I have to do something," Graham said. "I can't just sit here and another solider died, this is my community. I can do something."

So she and a few other neighbors bought as many American flags and yellow ribbons as it would take to decorate the entire neighborhood, all 97 houses. The ribbon is a symbol to honor America's military and those who have fallen.

Graham and her kids went door-to-door to raise money for supplies, she said the community was eager to help out. After every house was covered, Graham said it was like a moment of silence.

"It seemed very quiet, like the neighborhood has finally said 'Okay this happened here,' and I think a lot of people are shocked," Graham said.

The house of Brad's parents is still the most patriotic on the block, but it has been dripping with red, white and blue flags and decorations long before this trade. The family said it will stay that way for a long time to come.

Fox Carolina spoke with Brad Thomas' father, he said he realized what the neighborhood had done after he passed the first three houses and got very emotional and overwhelmed by the community's support.

He and the rest of the family expressed how much they appreciated all the work the community has done for their family.

The group leading the neighborhood display said their work isn't over, they have a few other plans to support the Thomas family. They are planning to make meals for the family for the next few weeks.

They are looking for volunteers to help them meet that goal. If you would like to help, contact Graham at easleycommunityspirit@gmail.com.

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