CLEVELAND — It was a hero’s homecoming as a soldier killed in Afghanistan returned home to Cleveland.
The body of Army Private Angel Lopez arrived at Burke Lakefront Airport Monday morning.
There were feelings of pain, but also of pride as family, friends and military veterans waited for the plane carrying the body of the 27-year-old.
“He’s home. Not the way we wanted him home, but he’s home,” said Maomi DeJesus, Lopez’s aunt.
Soon after the flag-draped coffin was carried from the plane, Angel Lopez’s relatives were given an emotional, private moment for this solemn homecoming.
“He was loved so much and we just want to thank everybody, everybody for just showing their support and it was just beautiful showing him home,” said DeJesus.
Several veterans’ groups on motorcycles also showed their respect to the fallen hero, who was killed October 5 while serving in Afghanistan. He leaves behind a wife, two children and a stepson.
“Being an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, it’s one of the worst jobs that we could ever have, but then, it’s a great honor to be able to escort these young men and women home,” said military veteran, Carl Fischer.
That’s just what they did.
A sea of motorcycles and police officers escorted Angel Lopez and his family from the airport, through the streets of Cleveland to the Craciun Berry Funeral Home on Detroit Road.
“It’s about paying it forward. My son was in the military, died in the Air Force. So, I’m paying it forward every chance I get,” said supporter, Dennis Felton.
“We’re here for support and whatever the family needs. That’s what we’re here for: to help the family get through their time of grief and that’s what we do,” said supporter, Danny Evans.
“It’s just people that come together to show their support and to servicing the grief to the family and be here for whatever the family needs,” said supporter, Mike Schrull.
Private Lopez’s family says the support they have received is unbelievable and say it is comforting to see him treated as the hero that he is.
“This is what he would have wanted. He definitely would have wanted to close down streets and make an entrance like he normally does, and he’s definitely dancing in the sky right now,” said DeJesus.
Calling hours for Angel Lopez will be from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday evening at the Craciun Berry Funeral Home on Detroit Avenue. His funeral will be held at
12:00 p.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church on Detroit Avenue.