Hundreds lined the streets of Center and down the highways leading to Shelbyville to convey the message, "Rest at ease soldier, your mission here is complete." Staff Sgt Casey Roberts wanted to retire in Shelby County. He grew up in Farmington, New Mexico and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He often visited his grandparents. Later he would bring his wife and two children to East Texas for summer time visits. Now his stay will start sooner than theirs'.
A general was there to present Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals. He said if a soldier has to go it's best for it to happen as a hero on the battlefield. Roberts was killed by a roadside bomb at the age of 25. It was his third deployment to Afghanistan. A distant family member paid his respects. He said, " How can the family be nothing but overwhelmed. They said thank you to the city and to the county. "
The family says Roberts' brightest lights in life were his wife, daughter and son. Their last family vacation was Disney World. Roberts instructed his children in a touching letter to have love, faith and pride in your country. So it's fitting local Boy Scouts were there to pay tribute. Adult leader of troop 119, Darrell Albert said, " We just needed to participate and show honor to the soldier, the military. This young man has given his life for our country and to me that's all you can give. "
Congressman Louie Gohmert was there. He showed gratitude to the Patriot Guard Riders. The motorcycle group that has lined too many streets for fallen soldiers. Rider Doug Smith said, " Today is my 39th mission. A lot of people are on their first mission. Some have been on close to 100. "
There's sadness, but no regrets. Joining up was something Roberts wanted to do after 9/11. Just like his father, Roberts was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Fourth Brigade Combat Team. A grieving father conveyed the spirit of camaraderie with hugs for fellow brothers of arms.