UPDATED WITH FULL STORY - Very few people here personally knew Sgt. Patrick Carroll. But that mattered little on a cold, windy Sunday afternoon as hundreds of people lined the streets of New London to welcome home one of their own.
It was not the homecoming, however, that anybody wanted to attend.
(NOTE: To see additional photos of the homecoming tribute, click HERE.)
Carroll, 25, of Norwalk, was killed Feb. 7 in Kandahar, Afghanistan after he fell victim to a suicide bomber while on patrol. Carroll had been assigned to the 319th Military Intelligence Battalion, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps. in Fort Bragg, N.C.
His body was flown to Mansfield, and then transported to New London on Sunday.
(His obituary, which now includes service times and other funeral arrangements, appears HERE.)
The son of James Carroll and Amy Bolding, he had resided in New London through the completion of the seventh grade. Then he moved to Bardstown, Ky. with his father in 1998.
After graduating from Nelson County High School in Bardstown in 2003, Carroll followed his dad's footsteps by joining the Army.
The elder Carroll recalled the day when his son suddenly announced his plans to join the Army. Patrick Carroll spent five years in the military, having served initially in Germany and later for an 18-month tour in Iraq before transitioning to Ft Bragg. Six months ago, Carroll and his unit were called to duty in Afghanistan.
James Carroll said he feels a sense of comfort waking up knowing that his son died doing what he loved.
"He was a lifer," James said. "He wanted to spend his life in the Army. He believed in what he was doing. It rips your heart out that he's gone but I can't imagine being more prouder. My son got to see the world and got to do things that most people could only dream about."
Roger Harner, of New London, said he knew the family.
"He went over and did what he wanted to do," Harner said, adding Carroll wasn't the first from the village to die.
"We've had three others, too (who died in Vietnam)," he said.
Kenny Fannin was a neighbor of the Carroll family.
"He was just a good kid," Fannin said. "We didn't know a whole lot about him."
Fannin said he would see Patrick in the summer when he came back to visit his grandparents.
It was a bitter-sweet homecoming ceremony, Fannin said.
Although it was a sad day for the community, the turnout made him proud.
"I think this is great ... the support for a fallen hero."
A statement issued by the Fort Knox public affairs office on behalf of Caroll's family said he "prided himself on his military association and accomplishments. ... Patrick developed a broad extended family throughout his travels and was loved by all."
The soldier's surivivors, in addition to his parents, include grandparents, Edgar and Virginia Fay Carroll, Norm and Bonnie Snyder and George and Livena (Dorothy) Schworm; brothers, Dustin Bolding of Aliquippa, Pa. and Dakota Bolding of Fayetteville, N.C.; a sister, Sumer Roberts of Fayetteville, N.C.; and his former wife, Sara (Covert) Carroll.
Calling hours will be 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at New London School, where a funeral service will take place at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Burial will follow in the Fitchville Cemetery.