Funeral, Procession Honors Soldier

Nearly 70-mile procession from Tolar to Dallas for Army Sgt. 1st Class Riley Stephens

Drivers in Hood, Tarrant and Dallas counties pulled off to the side of the highways briefly for the procession route for a fallen soldier. The Patriot Guard escorted Army Sgt. 1st Class Riley Stephens and his family from Tolar to his final resting place at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

The procession started at Tolar Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon.  It traveled northeast on US Route 377 to Interstate 20, east on I-20 to Spur 408 and then north on Spur 408 to 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway in Dallas.

Along the way, some drivers and passengers pulled off to the side of the road.  Others held American flags in tribute to Stephens.

"This is a little something you know to let them know that we cared for that boy, we prayed for them," Colleen Girder, the mother of an Army Staff Sergeant said.

Girder was with her family to pay her final respects to Army Sgt. 1st class Riley Stephens in Benbrook. The 39-year old dreamed of serving in the military since he was in high school and did so more for more than two decades. 

He is survived by his wife and three children.

On Saturday, a military plane carrying Stephens home to North Texas arrived at the Cleburne airport.  Cathy Cook did not know him personally but felt compelled to attend his arrival.

"I thought, 'I must go. I must be there. I must stop everything else and support this family,'" she said. "You know, I've had nephew and sons go over there, and I refuse to not support the troops."

Stephens, 39, sustained fatal wounds during an attack in the ProvinceProvice of Afghanistan on Sept. 28.

The Department of Defense says that during his years of service, Stephens received the Bronze Star Medal and The Purple Heart among many honors.

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