Hundreds pay last respects at SPC Don Nichols' visitation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hundreds pay last respects at SPC Don Nichols' visitation

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

Friday night, family and friends honored the life of a fallen soldier from Eastern Iowa. Last week, Specialist Don Nichols was killed in an IED attack in Afghanistan. Thursday morning patriot riders escorted Nichols' body from Waterloo to Waverly. Many people noted, it was the first time Nichols' death felt real.

At the visitation Friday, hundreds of friends, family members, and military officials took a few moments to privately say goodbye to the 21 year old soldier.

"Right now, all we can do is give the family our sincere sympathy, and be there, and support them in any way we can," said Jim Zacharias, representing the American Legion.

Much of the support came the form of solidarity. From the very young, to the more experienced, the Patriot Guard was charged with protecting the Nichols family during their time of need.

"The cold people are feeling on the outside is hopefully replaced by the warmth for the family as we shield them from the pain they are going through at this time," said Ken Halters, a Patriot Guard member.

Their shield is the American Flag -- fitting, as we remember that Nichols gave his life for our country. But saying goodbye to a hero never gets any easier, even for the more seasoned veterans.

"You want to see them come home the way they're supposed to. Not this way. This is... you send them off with a gold ribbon ceremony, and you hope they can come back the same way -- get that welcome back. This is just not the right way for somebody to come back," Zacharias added.

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