HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - A somber homecoming Tuesday for a fallen Louisiana soldier.
A special procession rolled from the airport in Hammond, LA through Livingston Parish to Denham Springs, LA for Specialist Chris Drake, who was killed last month in Afghanistan.
"I just want to see him and touch him," said Drake's mother, Rose Drake. She says she has not seen her son since he left for Afghanistan earlier this year in April. Her last conversation with him was last month, just a few days before he was killed. She says he just wanted to know how everyone else was doing. "I just want him to know we love him with everything in us."
Rose Drake says because of her strong faith, she and her family are coping with her sons death. She says Chris joined the U.S. Army to become a mechanical engineer. She says he 'wanted to be somebody.'
"He did the ultimate sacrifice. Something most wouldn't attempt to try," she said.
Drake's body was escorted to the MJR Friendly Service Funeral Home in Denham Springs, LA by military and law enforcement vehicles, including motor units from the Walker Police Department and the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office.
"We have a son that's deployed," said Stephanie Richardson, standing among the crowd gathered at the airport waving flags. "I worry everyday it could be me."
Richardson, who lives in the same town as the Drake's, says everyone who knew Chris says he had the warmest personality and the best smile. He told them to straighten up and get yourself together, she says. "He was an amazing young man."
Brandon Richardson says he went to school with Chris at Independence High School. Chris graduated in 2011, but Brandon says the two were on the football team together.
"After every game he'd come in and talk about how he loved the team." Tuesday seeing the turnout to welcome the soldier home, Brandon Richardson says shows just how much Chris Drake is loved and respected.
"I can't express it enough," Drake's mother said. "He died a true hero. He's all our hero. It's just so hard. I'm trying to hold these tears back, Lord help me. It's so hard."
His funeral is scheduled for Monday, June 10, at Eagle Heights Church off LA 1064 in Tickfaw at 11 a.m. The service is open to the public.
Drake was killed in Bagram, Afghanistan when his vehicle was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade on May 26, 2013.
According to the Department of Defense, he was part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Officials added he was assigned to the 1084th Transportation Company, 165th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 139th Regional Support Group, Reserve, LA in the Louisiana National Guard.
Spc. Drake is survived by fiance, her 3-year-old son and numerous family members.