Flags across the state were at half-staff today in honor of a Grayson County soldier who died in Iraq.
Thirty-seven-year old Staff Sergeant Thomas Clemons died of a heart attack on Dec. 11, before going on patrol. Friends, family and even those who didn’t know Clemons showed up today in Caneyville to salute this fallen soldier.
It was an emotional day for Grayson County residents as they laid to rest a fallen soldier. Staff Sergeant Thomas Clemons, known to friends as “Turtle”, died in Iraq of a heart attack, something Major John Cline said is just as tough as losing a soldier to war.
“Typically they prepare for the loss in combat operations, which sometimes makes a loss due to natural causes more of a problem and can effect soldiers different,” Major Cline said.
Major Cline wasn’t in the same battalion as Staff Sergeant Clemons. He usually only saw him in passing but he said from what he does know from Clemons’ friends and family he was a respectable soldier.
“Say he was a good man, he is a patriot, a true American. Volunteered all the time for duties that need to be done. Not everyone is willing to raise their hand and volunteer, so Sergeant Clemons was always willing to do that and was certainly a good American,” Major Cline said.
Gregory Newman didn’t know Clemons either but he was one of more than a dozen Patriot Guard Riders who attended the services to pay their respects for someone they say was an American hero.
“They’re fighting the wars for us to have our freedom to be here and this is the only way we can give it back to them on the homefront,” Newman said.
Staff Sergeant Clemons leaves behind his wife and two sons but to those around him, they say he’ll never be forgotten.
Clemons is the 13th Kentucky Army National Guard soldier to die in U.S. military operations since Sept. 11, 2001. He’s the second soldier the city of Leitchfield has lost in Iraq.