Tampa, Florida-- Southwest Flight number 192 arrived in Tampa Friday night to a water bridge salute. The body of Sgt. Danny Ferguson was on board.
Waiting on the tarmac were color guard, military officials and his family. Outside the gates stood members of the Patriot guard, waving flags, holding signs, and waiting to pay their respects to a fallen hero.
"It just breaks your heart. Even though I didn't know him, it could have been my son, my husband, my neighbor, and it is heartbreaking," said Lutz Patriot member Kris Starr.
Sgt. Ferguson's casket was rolled out of the jet's cargo hold draped by an American flag. His family was invited to surround the casket in a quiet ceremony before it was loaded into a hearse.
Military officials and even tarmac personnel stood at attention. As the family was escorted to awaiting cars, the faces told a story of anguish. They held hands, wiped away each others' tears, and gently comforted each other.
Minutes later, the procession began. Sgt. Ferguson received a police escort and a street side salute from roughly 20 people from Tampa Bay, just proud Americans who came out to do nothing more than show their respect to a fallen hero.
"He served his country, and he did it with honor," said Lutz Patriot Bruce Hockensmith.