BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of mourners lined the streets waving flags and saluting on Friday as a Colorado soldier’s body was returned to his home state.
Spc. Gabriel Conde, a 22-year-old Army specialist, was killed in Afghanistan last month when he was hit by enemy fire.
Earlier this week residents placed flags along the streets of Berthoud, Conde’s adopted hometown, in anticipation of Friday morning’s funeral procession that took Conde’s flag-draped coffin through the town.
Conde’s body arrived at the airport in Loveland Friday morning and from there it was driven through the northern Colorado town. Joining in the procession were police motorcycles and other emergency vehicles with their lights flashing.
The procession then continued on to Longmont, where Conde’s funeral will take place on Saturday afternoon at LifeBridge Christian Church. It is open to the public.
On Monday afternoon a private formal military burial will be held at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.
PHOTO GALLERY: Spc. Gabriel Conde Funeral Procession
Conde and his family moved from Missouri to Berthoud when he was 14 and he graduated from Berthoud High School. Family and friends say he embraced all that is Colorado, from hiking to hunting.
He was a member of the Army’s 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Dennis Henneberg is among those who placed small American flags on fences and signposts of the town.
“It’s all about him, yeah. And Bob and Donna because, you know I can’t image losing a kid,” Henneberg said on Thursday. “He was so close to coming home. He was going to be coming home in a few weeks when it happened.”
Last week a friend told CBS4 being in the Army suited Conde.
“He was doing great, he was loving his missions, he was going on awesome adventures. He was living the life he wanted to,” Nathan Denesha said.
The family has established the Gabriel David Conde Memorial Fund and are hoping people will donate. Their plan is to support organizations that protect children. Checks can be mailed or dropped off at Howe Mortuary, 439 Coffman St., Longmont, CO 80501 or any First Bank location, according to Conde’s obituary.