Crowds gather to honor fallen soldier's return - FOX Carolina 21

Crowds gather to honor fallen soldier's return

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Sgt. Thomas' motorcade arrives in downtown Easley. (June 29, 2012/FOX Carolina) Sgt. Thomas' motorcade arrives in downtown Easley. (June 29, 2012/FOX Carolina)
A motorcade proceeds south along Interstate 85 for Sgt. Matthew Thomas. (June 29, 2012/FOX Carolina) A motorcade proceeds south along Interstate 85 for Sgt. Matthew Thomas. (June 29, 2012/FOX Carolina)
EASLEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Interstate 85 was shutdown and community members gathered to show their support for a fallen National Guardsmen as his body was brought back home Friday.

The remains of Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas landed at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport Friday morning, and a motorcade took to Interstate 85 headed for downtown Easley to honor his service and return.

Thomas' wife asked the community to line the streets with American flags in hand after he died in Afghanistan on June 20. Thomas was one of three South Carolina National Guard soldiers killed, and five were injured.

SLIDESHOW: Community shows support for fallen soldier

The Guardsmen were serving in the 133rd Military Police Company, which is based in Florence County. The unit was activated last November and were scheduled to return home in August.

Their mission is to train members of the Afghan police.

Sixteen members of the South Carolina National Guard have died in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003.

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