MEDINA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A fallen Army Sergeant made her final journey home on Monday.
The Patriot Guard Riders began their 40 mile trek from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The body of Army Sgt. Shaina Schmigel was flown in from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where she was killed in a parachute training exercise 10 days ago.
As Medina residents began lining up along Main Street, the Shelby and Albion Fire Departments hoisted the flag while the motorcade made its way down the NYS Thruway.
“It’s just a very sad way to come home,” said Pat McGaffick, one of nearly a thousand people who turned out for this solemn homecoming.
The 21-year-old soldier graduated from Medina High School in 2010 and immediately joined the Army, serving in Iraq a year later. She worked her way to the rank of sergeant with plans to join the airborne brigade later this summer.
“She loved her country, and she left her family for it, that’s a lot of things you got to do. You got to give her a lot of credit,” said Medina resident Toni Schneider.
Most of the people who turned out here didn’t even know Sgt. Schmigel. For Vietnam veteran Joe Franklin, the fact that Schmigel served was enough for him.
“Support our troops, just support them. We didn’t get any respect when we came home. We got none.”
Events like this open up old wounds for veterans like Thomas Bodie, who served in the U.S. Navy.
“I came today to honor a fallen soldier. I’ve lost a lot of friends, lot of family, that’s the least I can do.”
The final stop for the motorcade was Batavia, where Rita Towner set up a line of flags near the funeral home.
“We honor them, we appreciate the sacrifices they make every day, and we just wanted to let people know about it.”
Calling hours are scheduled for Tuesday from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Michael Tomaszewski Funeral Home on West Main Street in Batavia. The funeral will also be held at the same location Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Sgt. Schmigel will be buried with full military honors at Evergreen Hill Cemetery in Corfu.