There was a somber silence in the small town of Manchester, GA as a funeral procession for a hometown hero traveled through the city.
“That was Ashton Fuller’s last ride with us all until we see him again in Heaven,” friends and family of Private First Class Ashton Fuller say as they reminisce after the grave side ceremony.
The parade of lifted trucks and Patriot Guard Riders carried the United States soldier’s body from the First Assembly of God Church to Meriwether Memorial Gardens.
The pallbearers hoisted the American flag-draped casket into Alec Gooch’s truck bed, giving the friends one last time to ride together.
“It was just an honor to be able to bring him home and lay him to rest,” Gooch says.
Fuller’s family asked the community to line the streets to give the soldier a hero’s goodbye. They accepted, holding American flags as the funeral procession went by. Veterans in the area offered a salute as PFC Fuller passed.
“Words can’t explain how awesome it was to see them line the streets and everything. I thank everybody for it,” says Tim Fuller, the soldier’s father.
Loved ones say Fuller was more than an Army private. The 21-year-old was a husband, a son, a brother, and a friend. His family and friends say he touched the hearts of everyone he came in contact with.
“He’s just a loving, outgoing person. Loved to hunt and fish. Feared God. Had a lot of friends and family as we can see. He loved his country. And we are all going to miss him dearly,” Tim Fuller says.
Fuller died while on duty in South Korea, only months after marrying his elementary school sweetheart. The two tied the knot in October. They wed on a Saturday, and he headed for South Korea the Monday after.
His loved ones say they are relying on faith and friendship to pull them through.
“The fact that we’re going to see him again, and comradery and friendship, and it’s like I told someone the other day, all our lives are better because of Ashton,” says Mark Gooch.
Family and friends say Fuller was weeks away from coming to visit for fifteen days in April. They say he had a full agenda planned, and now they intend to keep those plans and spend time together in his memory.