Wednesday, the Mankato Free Press's reporter and photographer John Cross captured the image of the military honor guard loading Jacob Thompson's casket into a hearse while members of the Patriot Guard stood watch. The Thompson family had requested the assistance of the volunteer organization as they prepared to bury their son.
Led by a North Mankato squad car, a fire engine and seven motorcycle riders, the hearse left the airport and drove on Highway 14. Residents in the Thompson family’s quiet lower North neighborhood stopped and stared, and one woman stood in the sidewalk holding an American flag.
As the other vehicles waited, the hearse pulled up to the Thompson house, at 601 Cornelia St.
Jacob’s father, Charlie, approached the hearse, opened it and leaned inside.
He stood there, appearing to shake a bit, for what felt like a minute or two but might have been longer.
Across the street, a construction crew stopped what they were doing and watched, just as silent as everyone else.
A flag at 607 Cornelia flew at half-staff, as did the flags at the Thompson home. About 30 miniature flags lined the boulevard there.
Last night, we caught KEYC's report Mourners, Protesters Expected at Soldier Funeral about Sgt. Jacob Thompson's funeral today. Here's the transcript:
Several streets will be closed tomorrow morning in the area of Broad Street and Warren street for the funeral procession of Staff Sergeant Jacob Thompson.News 12's Kelsey Soby talked to some people today who are going to make sure the family feels a lot of support along the way.
In the final hours of the two-day visitation for Staff Sergeant Jacob Thompson, there was still a steady flow of visitors and some people who came yesterday to pay their respects never left.
Doug Bley says, "We'll have thousands of hours in this and it's our honor to do that.'"
Doug Bley is the senior ride captain of the Minnesota Patriot Guard, he and his crew have been standing guard at St. John the Baptist's Church for over thirty hours.This is how they show a fallen soldier and his family how much they appreciate his sacrifice. Bley says, "Time is heart, and how much heart do you have, and do you care to give it to somebody or do you care to keep it for yourself? We choose to give it to this family and this community."
Another person giving her time to help honor Staff Sergeant Thompson is the president of the VFW Ladies's Auxiliary. Her goal is to get as many people as possible to line the streets of the funeral procession holding flags, hearts and hands.
Mary Torgusen says, "It's a great loss when this happens and Jacob's family is very much loved in the community, very wonderful people and we wanted to make sure they knew they were supported."
But not everyone present tomorrow will be here to honor Sergeant Jacob Thompson. Authorities have been tipped off that several protestors of the war may show up, which is why officials have designated this part of Warren Street for those individuals.Up to ten members of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas say they intend to picket Thompson's funeral.
The church has protested several military funerals in the past to gain attention for their anti-gay views.
Deputy Director Matt Westemeyer says, "They have the right to do that as long as they're on public property and not within the 500-foot perimeter and we understand and respect that."
There'll be extra officers on site to contain any protestors that may show up and to help lead the procession.Everyone is doing what they can to help honor this fallen soldier who will be missed by so many.
We're betting that Phelp's militantly anti-gay followers are no-shows yet again, having succeeded in generating the publicity and the pain on which they thrive. The Patriot Guard was formed in response to Phelps' use of military funerals to gain publicity for his views.
Who was Jacob Thompson? Some background from articles in the Mankato Free Press. The family remembered him here: he was their youngest son. His mother saved all of his emails from Iraq and had planned to put them together in a book. He was proud of his mission. Go read about him. In another article, Army details local soldier's death.
The Star Tribune attended the family press conference and reported that One North Mankato family's hero killed in 2nd tour of Iraq. Thompson was honored in Washington state according to Fort Lewis pays tribute to 4 soldiers at memorial (Olympian). Here's a list of those Americans who died in the explosion that took his life:
Army chaplain Maj. Steven George called Friday's ceremony a celebration "of the lives of true American heroes ... men whose lives represent the very best of what this country has to offer.
Thompson was a Minnesotan who loved to hunt and fish and who'd been wounded on a previous deployment to Iraq.
Gummersall was an Army Ranger and football player who'd been twice before to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.
Alcantara was a Dominican-born New Yorker who longed to get home and see his baby daughter for the first time. And Khan was a Muslim from New Jersey whose family said he wanted to show the world that men of his faith were willing to fight for this country.
Khan's parents Feroze and Elsheba, step-mother Nisha and 11-year-old sister Aliya flew from New Jersey to attend Friday's ceremony. They held one another close for several moments at the end as they knelt to kiss their soldier's portrait and touch his identification tags, helmet, rifle and boots assembled at the front of the Main Post Chapel.
Each soldier was represented by the traditional memorial display, along with a large photograph.
Their mission that day:
On the day they died, four Stryker soldiers were doing a humanitarian mission in Baqouba, seeing to it that all was secure and orderly as food and other relief supplies were delivered to women and children in the embattled Iraqi city."They were helping people and enjoying that part of their mission," said Capt. Dan Johnson, commander of their battalion's rear detachment at Fort Lewis.
A few hours later the four men would be back into combat, and then killed, when bombs exploded in a house they were clearing. The blast also killed their Iraqi interpreter.
Goodbye and thank you.