Thousands in Hardin and Larue Counties turned out Friday to pay their final respects as the body of Lance Cpl. Matthias Hanson was transported to his hometown of Hodgenville, Ky. The fallen Marine was killed the previous week in combat in Afghanistan.

Truly a grass roots movement, the suggestion to honor the dead warrior surfaced on a social media Internet site when the news of Hanson's death reached Kentucky earlier in the week. Although no group formally organized the turn-out, local radio and TV stations asked listeners to show their support by lining the route from Radcliff to the funeral home in Hodgenville. Many showed up with American flags, others stood silently, while some knelt in prayer.

The body arrived at Fort Knox's Godman Army Airfield, where 2,000 Soldiers and Marines from units throughout the installation stood in a formation on both sides of the road, saluting as the hearse passed.

The motorcade of vehicles accompanying the hearse stretched for almost a mile as it traveled southward along Dixie Highway from Fort Knox. In spite of 20-degree weather, some Kentucky Patriot Guards accompanied the body on their motorcycles, while others followed in cars. With an escort of Kentucky state troopers, the procession met fire engines, local law enforcement vehicles, or more flag wavers at most intersections in Radcliff and Elizabethtown. Many businesses honored Hanson with messages on their marquees.

The Fort Knox and Radcliff fire departments each brought a hook-and-ladder truck to form the "crossed ladders" formation over Dixie Highway. A garrison-size American flag was suspended from the ladders, creating an arch over traffic.

Hanson graduated from Larue County High School in 1998. He was 20 years old.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16