Celebrating Santiago Halsel

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A Bowling Green solider was laid to rest today. 32-year-old Staff Sergeant Santiago Halsel was killed May 16 while fighting in the war in Iraq.

Inside the funeral friends and family members remembered Halsel as a loving father and husband who paid the ultimate price for his country.

Traffic was backed up on Boiling Springs Road as mourners came to say their final goodbyes to the soldier from the 101st Airborne Division.

Halsel was baptized last February and friends say he was not scared of going to Iraq and that he was ready to go.

"He loved his country and he fought for his country."

Santiago Halsel was just 32-years old when he died, but he touched many people with his kind heart.

"Taygo was a loving guy. He just gave his all. Any time you saw him coming he had a smile on his face. And if he had a bad day you would never even know it."

This was Halsel's second tour of duty in Iraq. He joined the military in 1996 to provide for his family.

"Before he went back to Iraq the second tour, he had laid out everything for his wife and made sure that his family had a house and a home and the arrangements had been taken care of. He made sure all of his bases covered."

Taygo, as his friends and family called him, had been baptized last February. Friends say that helped ease his fears about going back to Iraq for the second time.

"Before Taygo left the second time, he had made peace with god by doing that that it will give you an inner peace so you can do what you need to do and not live in fear."

His children did not attend the burial service and relatives say his son is taking it the hardest.

"If you ever saw how he just hung on him how they loved him. It's just something hard for kids to adjust to."

It's something that will be hard for everyone who knew and loved Taygo to get used to. In the meantime, friends say they will pray for his family and all the other soldiers fighting for our country.

"My prayers go out to all the other guys in Iraq. And I hope they come home soon."

At Thursday's service Halsel was honored with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service to the country. He also received medals for the global war on terrorism, combat infantry, and the Iraqi campaign.