Knoxville (WVLT) - The Claiborne County community is welcoming home one of their own, a local solider killed on the front lines in iraq and as staff sergeant terry prater returns home for burial, his community is embracing the hero lost, the family he leaves behind, and his dedication to our country.
IT'S A SITE EVEN THE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM CAN'T GET USE TO SEEING,
"Each and everyone is extremely difficult for families but also for the soldiers," says Master Sergeant Don Blalock of the Army National Honor Guard.
And Friday bringing home one of their own is a moment filled with silence and sorrow as Staff Sergeant Terry Prater lays draped in the cloth he was fighting for. For the honor guards who help send him to his final resting. He's now earned a spot in their lives.
"It's about our freedom our ability to live our lives the way we want to live them speak freely here today," says MSG Blalock. "It's our way of life that's at stake."
SSG Prater's casket makes its way into a processional line that will carry him back to his wife and two children in speedwell. At the front of the pack, the Patriot Riders, a group of cyclists showing their respect to our fallen heroes.
"I'm the widow of a 20 year Navy vet, daughter of 26 year Army veteran I'm proud I've had 2 heroes in my life," says Debb McKay, a Patriot Rider.
In a strange turn of fate, it's the mission that took SSG Prater's life that will lead him back to his favorite place and to his final resting spot. An avid fisherman, family members say Terry Prater took on his third and final assignment in Iraq to pay for a new boat so he could cast his line along Norris Lake.
"He's going to be cremated Monday and half of his ashes will be scattered along his favorite fishing spot," MSG Blalock says.
But before he makes it there, his friends and family will take Friday to welcome home this son, husband and father for the last time here in Claiborne County and remember a 25-year-old whose bravery, his fellow soldiers won't soon forget.
"Prater made the ultimate sacrifice to make for our country," Blalock says.
Prater's family will receive friends on Sunday from three to seven at the Claiborne County Funeral Home.
A memorial service will follow.
A funeral procession from the funeral home to Norris Lake, where Staff Sergeant Prater's remains will be scattered, will take place on Monday March 26th.
Staff Sergeant Prater leaves behind a wife and two children.