Hundreds of people in Jackson welcome home family of Marine killed in Kabul attack
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JACKSON, Wyoming —— Hundreds of people came together Monday and lined the streets of downtown Jackson to welcome home the family of a local U.S. Marine killed in the Kabul airport attack last week.
The McCollum family from Jackson traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to retrieve Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum on Sunday.
The 20-year-old was one of 13 U.S. troops killed. Rylee was on his first deployment and manning a checkpoint at the airport when the attack happened. He was expecting his first child with his wife in mid-September.
Groups of veterans and locals like Ryan Blair and Bob Tomb organized an escort as the McCollum family arrived back into town. Law enforcement escorted the McCollum family in a white van from Alpine, Wyoming through the canyon into Jackson. People held American flags and waved as the McCollum family drove through Jackson. Police saluted and firefighters stood near and paid their respects.
Rylee was not with his family as they were escorted in. Officials said his body is back in the United States, but it has not yet made it to Jackson.
“The community rallied together. Lots of love. It was a pretty remarkable thing to see, a very emotional thing to see,” Ryan Blair said. “Everybody just stopped what they were doing. Businesses shut down, all the tourists in the town square stopped what they were doing.”
Blair told EastIdahoNews.com he is doing all he can to help the McCollum family. He grew up in Jackson and has met Rylee before.
“He was probably one of the most respectful young men I’ve ever met. He stood tall. He was a proud young man. The McCollum family are extraordinary people,” Blair said. “I know that they appreciate everybody in this community and across this country for the love that has been sent out.”
Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s sister told EastIdahoNews.com what she saw on Monday from the community was overwhelming and beautiful.
“When the military van came through with the family in it, Jim (Rylee’s father) had the van door open just weeping and waving,” said Bob Tomb.
A casualty assistance officer helping the McCollum family told EastIdahaNews.com there will be an escort when Rylee arrives home at an unspecified future date. The McCollum family wants the official homecoming to happen when Rylee’s wife and newborn can travel to Jackson.
The family asks that if anyone wants to help in any way or have questions, to reach their casualty assistance officer: (816) 678-5444.