WAVERLY, Ohio (WTVN) -- The body of Army Spc. Justin Helton will be returned to his hometown in Pike County on Saturday afternoon.
A plane carrying Helton's remains will land at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base around noon Saturday where a private ceremony will be held for the family. A procession including law enforcement, more than 1,000 motorcycles, Helton's body and his family will then head south down U.S. 23.
"We want to bring him home to what I call a glorious homecoming," said Kris Rowe, a long-time family friend. "He gave his all to us and that's the least we could do for him."
People are being asked to line U.S. 23 from South Bloomfield to Waverly to pay their respects to Helton. More than 1,200 flags are being placed along the highway through Circleville.
"We all come together. This is our soldier. He's part of us," said Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Pickaway County Veterans Services Office.
She says they want to show the Helton family that they appreciate Justin's sacrifice for his country and that they support the family.
"I've got four boys serving myself and I could never imagine losing a child and what a large sacrifice that whole family has made for our country and how wonderfully grateful we are to them," she said.
Several businesses in Circleville are chipping in to provide flags and water to those who come out to line the highway.
Hospital Road and River Road are two good spots to stop just north of Chillicothe. There will also likely be people stopped on overpasses with large flags along the route.
"There's not one of us that rides in one of these missions that does not have tears falling out of their eyes and down their cheeks through the entire route," said Randy Davies, a captain with the Patriot Guard Riders.
He says the community support seen already has been overwhelming.
"I'm not sure that there's a flag for sale anywhere south of Columbus," he said.
Down in Pike County, the community has lined the road from Waverly to Eastern High School in Beaver, where the funeral will be held, with more than 4,000 flags.
"Those flags are for Justin, but they're also to thank our veterans, everyone that's served and the current soldiers who are serving," Rowe said.
She says they've been asking for flag donations to add to the route. A box of flags from a group of World War II veterans in South Carolina and Maryland arrived Thursday. Rowe says a man from Massachusetts who happened to be traveling through the area followed the flags to the school and stopped and prayed for the family and community.
Visitation will be from 3 to 8pm, Sunday, at Eastern High School in Beaver, Ohio. The funeral will be on Monday at 11am at Eastern High School, with visitation an hour prior.
Twenty buses will be on site to transport those in attendance from the school to the cemetery and back.