NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — Its been said before, that freedom is not free. We remember that most when we lose one of our own. Hundreds of people came together in New Braunfels on Friday afternoon to pay tribute to an American hero.
The body of Marine Sgt. Thomas Spitzer, 23, arrived at New Braunfels Airport just after 2 p.m.
Friends, family and people wanting to pay their respects showed up to welcome him home.
“I don’t know, it just hits home, it just hits home,” said Olga Nasis, who came in from San Antonio for the procession.
The Patriot Guard was also there to help escort his body to the Zoeller Funeral Home.
Stella Jimenez watched with her family, paying her respects to Sgt. Spitzer, “It’s important that we don’t forget them. It’s important we remember the sacrifice they gave so that we can all live here in America and be free and safe.”
“I just wanted to come pay my respects to a man that laid down and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedoms that we all enjoy,” said David Dunnam, a resident new to the area. Dunnam’s father was also in the Marine Corps.
Spitzer was a mortarman with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, based out of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.
He died on June 25 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
For one family, the pain is all too familiar.
“My cousin was Lance Cpl. John Felix Farias,” said Stephanie Farias. “He died in Afghanistan, almost three years to the date.”
Lance Cpl. Farias was a good friend of Sgt. Spitzer.
“We came through the procession, it was moving and touching to see a whole community come out and support you when it wasn’t exactly the happiest times,” said Stephanie.
This was Spitzer’s second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While the sadness doesn’t ever go away, their lives weren’t lost in vain.
“That’s what makes this country so great, is that there are men and women that will sacrifice their lives for this country,” said Stephanie.
“Thank you very much for your service,” said Dunnam. “It’s not forgotten.”
“You’re brave, you’re brave and we appreciate you.” said Nasis.
“Thank you to all our men and women in military service for the sacrifice you give for us each and every day of your life, we truly appreciate you,” Jimenez added.
Earlier this week, a public memorial was held at Canyon High School’s Cougar Stadium.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, July 6 from 2 – 7 p.m. at Zoeller Funeral Home in New Braunfels.
The funeral will be held on Monday, July 7 at 12 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church in New Braunfels. Internment will follow at Fort Sam Houston.
Donations can be made here.