HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The plane touched down at 7:20 Friday morning and on board was the body of Army Sergeant Anthony Magee, 29, arriving in a coffin draped with the colors he represented.
"I hate that a young guy had to die over there in the war and it just saddens my heart," said Melia Morris who watched the procession.
The Hattiesburg native died last week in a German hospital after a missile attack on his barracks in Iraq. It was his second tour duty.
A procession of law enforcement and patriot guardsmen lead family and friends of soldier down the Evelyn Gandy Parkway, then in to the Hub City, passing by Hattiesburg High School, where Magee graduated from in 1999.
"I knew him real well," said former classmate Reginald Morris.
Morris says Magee always wanted to protect his country.
"H told me that he wanted to go support our country and I just come out here to give him all the love I can and show him that I do thank him for all he has done for us," said Morris
"Any of our troops who went out to Iraq, I feel like they need a nice program and a nice thank you," said Hattiesburg High student Tia Brown.
From there the procession made it's towards Hall's Fairley Mortuary, passing folks who didn't even know the fallen soldier, but wanted to show they cared.
"Ii didn't know him personally, but I was a serviceman myself and he gave his life to defend this country," said Tommie Thomas, who also watched the procession.
Magee isn't the only Pine belt soldier to loose his life in the War on Terror. Last month Petal native Anthony Blount, 21, was killed when an IED exploded against the humvee he was in.
Now, two close painful reminders of freedom.
"It just hurts," says Madeline Hayes who worked with Magee's father, and stood at the corner of W. Pine and 2nd Avenue as the reality of war passed in front of her eyes.
"This child had a love for the world, that he was willing to go and give his life just for us, so we could be free," said Hayes.
Magee not only leaves behind his parents and his wife, but also his 5-year-old son, who will now grow up with only stories of the hometown hero, he calls dad.