Hundreds mourn soldier's death - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hundreds mourn soldier's death

October 15, 2006

Valdosta--A south Georgia soldier killed while serving in Iraq is laid to rest today.

As family members packed the inside of Union Cathedral in Valdosta to say their final good-byes to Staff Sgt. James Ellis, complete strangers also stood outside the church in honor of the fallen soldier.

Mourners from near and far honor a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"We have to come out and pay our due respects to people like this gentleman that gave his life for his country," says John Adkins.

"It's a tragedy to see them dying, but they're fighting for a reason," says Arian Hernandez.

Staff Sgt. James Ellis died from a roadside bomb in Baghdad two weeks ago. He was only twenty-five.

"The younger they are the more difficult it is to stand here," says Adkins.

"It hurts. It hurts," says Minch.

John Minch belongs to a group of bikers called the Patriot Guard Riders. They honor soldiers, like Ellis, killed in the line of duty.

"This young man was willing to give his life to protect me and my freedoms, this is the very, very least I can do for him," says Minch.

Complete strangers salute this fallen soldier who they call a hero.  Others honor Ellis with American flags in hand. Emotions run high for many, even for Minch.

"There's a lot of emotions you go through, but doing the right thing is never hard," says Minch.

Nearby young children hold signs that read "We love our troops."

"We wanted to support our troops.  They're out there fighting for us," says Sarah Adams.

While losing a soldier in the war is never easy, these mourners say it's important to stand by them no matter what.

"That's what keeps them motivated, that's what keeps them going on, keeps them from giving up." says Hernandez.

 And it's that support that lets families like this know that soldier's bravery overseas has not gone unnoticed.

Ellis is just one of the many soldiers to die while serving in Iraq. While his family is saddened by his death, they say he enjoyed serving his country and believed in what he was fighting for. Ellis was just 25-years-old when he lost his life while fighting the war on terrorism.

Family members describe the young soldier as a loving father and devoted husband.

Ellis leaves behind his wife of two years, Ulrica, and their 14-month old daughter Ja'Niayah Ellis.

Ellis was originally from Chicago, Illinois but called south Georgia home.Ellis was scheduled to return home by December 1st.

He would have spent his first Christmas with his daughter.

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