Fallen Elkhart soldier laid to rest - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Fallen Elkhart soldier laid to rest


Friday was a very emotional day for friends and family of Army Staff Sergeant Jesse Williams.

The soldier was one of six service members killed when a helicopter went down in Afghanistan in December.

Over 200 people gathered at Granger Community Church to for his funeral. Nearly 100 Patriot Guards stood outside the church holding American flags, and were thanked by friends and family of Staff Sgt. Williams.

Senator Joe Donnelly spoke at the service and talked about how Williams served three tours in the Army, saying, "Jesse stepped up to keep our nation free."

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski also spoke. She said she was amazed at how many people attended the service, and was touched seeing people shake the hands and thank members of the Patriot Guard standing outside. "I've never seen anything like this. Bitter cold and many honoring a fallen soldier," said Walorski.

Three of Staff Sgt. Williams' friends spoke about what "Jesse" meant to them. Two friends and fellow soldiers, SFC Janice Pleasant and PVT Josh Sizemore, spoke about how he was an extremely motivated person, who hit the gym everyday, and often said the phrase, "Stop complaining, let's get this done," when given a complicated task.

Sgt. Williams served in the Army as an electronic warfare specialist, where SFC Pleasant said he was the 'best of the best' at what he did.

His long time best friend of 17 years, Jeremy Reglogle, said he was the first of their group of friends to pave the way at leading a good, clean life. Reglogle says he owes a lot of his successes to Williams, calling him a guiding light and an inspiration to him - like the older brother he never had. He left the stage saying, "I love you brother. When I see you again, first rounds on me."

Pastor Mark Waltz spoke about how Williams attended services at Granger Community Church last year on Christmas Eve. He also spoke about how Williams' was a die-hard University of Michigan football fan, telling friends and family how in the casket with Jesse was a signed football from the entire 2013 Michigan team.

Hundreds drove with the procession down County Road 10 to make their way to Staff Sgt. Williams' final resting place at Rice Cemetery in Elkhart. Mishawaka Police, Elkhart Police, and Indiana State Police blocked many of the intersections on the way, also standing in salute to the fallen soldier. Dozens gathered along the procession route with American flags, saluting, and holding signs saying, "Thank you for your service Sgt. Williams. R.I.P."

Williams was born and raised in Elkhart. Williams leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter, Madison.

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