Community says goodbye to a hero

DACUSVILLE — Dacusville is a close-knit, family community, so often a funeral becomes an emotional experience that touches the entire community, even those who claim no kinship with the deceased.
The community came together even more than normal last week at the graveside services for Sgt. 1st Class Brad Thomas, held at Nine Forks Baptist Church in Dacusville.
The actual funeral services were held earlier in the day at Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley, which is large enough to hold all of those not familiar with Sgt. Thomas who still wanted to attend his funeral services, paying tribute to a new American hero, whose life came to a tragic early end in Afghanistan after an attack by a suicide bomber.
At Nine Forks, more than 200 people surrounded the church, waiting for the horse and carriage to arrive with Thomas’ body to arrive from Easley to be buried with full military honors.
Hundreds braved the hot summer temperatures for the graveside services. The procession was delayed some when the hearse from Robinson’s Funeral Home made a stop at the former home of Dacusville Middle School to move the soldier’s casket into a horse-led buggy for the final portion of its ride to the cemetery.
Volunteers from the American Red Cross were on hand, giving out free bottles of cold water to those standing in the afternoon sun, waiting for the hearse to arrive. Some members of the church went inside the building to get more water to share with the crowd.
Many of those attending helped to form a line of people holding the American Flag when the buggy arrived with the body. Many were members of one of the groups of motorcycle riders who were supporting the families. Others were members of Nine Forks, proudly showing their support for the brave soldier and his family.
From across the road, a 21-gun salute was fired in honor of Sgt. Thomas. Taps was played as the tearful crowd bid farewell to the brave young soldier who had given his all to serve his country.
As the graveside services drew to a close, the many mourners seemed to join in one resolve to offer support to Sgt. Brad Thomas’ wife and toddler son, helping them deal with the loss of an America hero.