Dubuque community welcomes back parents of fallen soldier - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque community welcomes back parents of fallen soldier

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Hugs and tears fill Dubuque Regional Airport.

"I have an awful empty feeling in my heart...and that'll take time to heal," said Shirley Lemm.

Nearly 100 people including family members, area law enforcement and others, came out to show their solidarity and honor the parents of Joseph Lemm.

The 45-year-old soldier and NYPD detective from Bernard was one of six u-s soldiers killed in December when a suicide bomber attacked their patrol in Afghanistan.

Thousands paid their respects at the state funeral on Wednesday in New York city.

"Overwhelming, I can not say big enough thanks to the NYPD, the Air Force...they treated us like royalty," she added.

The unforgettable image of Lemm's 4-year old son saluting his coffin at the ceremony.

"How neat is that...it's heart-wrenching at the same time.  Heart-wrenching, but amazing," said Joseph's cousin Rick Reeg's.

After the funeral -- his parents flew back  to eastern Iowa in a private military jet.  His mother, Shirley, heart-broken over her big loss.

"He was a big man but he had an awful big heart...and he never forgot where he came from, the little towns.  And they used to call him the country boy when he moved to New York, and he wasn't...he wasn't angry at that, he was proud of it," she said.

And during this difficult time, Lemm' family gets some comfort knowing they have the support of their community.

Joseph Lemm is survived by his wife Christine, a 17-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

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About 100 hundred people came out to Dubuque Regional Airport to show their solidarity and honor the parents of Joseph Lemm.

The 45-year-old was one of six U.S. soldiers killed in December when a suicide bomber attacked their patrol in Afghanistan.

Lemm's funeral was held on Wednesday in New York.  Thousands lined 5th Avenue for the state funeral.  Lemm's 4-year-old son saluted his coffin.

Saturday, his parents returned in a private military jet to Dubuque. A large group was there to welcome them, including the Dubuque police department, county sheriff's office and several area fire departments.  Many were holding U.S. flags.

Lemm's mother, Shirley says says the support is "overwhelming."

She also adds her son never forgot his roots. "He was a big man, but he had an awful big heart...and he never forgot where he came from, the little towns.  And they used to call him the country boy when he moved to New York, and he wasn't...he wasn't angry at that, he was proud of it," said Shirley Lemm.

He is survived by his wife Christine, a 17-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

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