SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The body of Sean Walsh, a 21-year-old California National Guard soldier from San Jose who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, arrived Wednesday afternoon at Moffett Federal Airfield on a white charter jet.
Waiting at the airfield for the fallen soldier’s arrival was a procession of supporters, members of the Patriot Guard Riders, military personnel, local police, and Walsh’s family, including his mother Cheryl, and father, Kenneth.
Walsh died Nov. 16 from injuries suffered when he encountered indirect fire during physical training on a base in Afghanistan’s Khost Province.
KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:
His body was flown in from Dover, Delaware and landed at Moffett Field at 2 p.m. Six military personnel on board carried the casket with an American flag draped over it.
Prior to the arrival of the soldier’s remains, Cheryl Walsh, accompanied by Walsh’s dog, Lena, spoke to reporters about losing her only child.
“He was just two weeks away from returning home,” Walsh said, her eyes red-rimmed. “There’s a huge hole in my heart.”
Walsh remembered her son as a “happy kid” who “loved to make people laugh.” She said he had a passion for the military and was a competitive skateboarder.
“We were very close,” she said. “My son loved me unconditionally, no matter what I looked like or how I acted…we ended every phone call with ‘I love you’.”
The public is invited to pay their respects to Walsh and his family from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday at the Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park at 300 Curtner Ave. in San Jose.
His funeral service, also open to the public, will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 13601 Saratoga Ave. in Saratoga, followed by a graveside memorial at Oak Hill Funeral Home in San Jose.
Walsh was assigned to the 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade in Pittsburg. The unit left for a yearlong mission to Afghanistan in December 2010. He enlisted at the age of 18 after graduating from Prospect High School in Saratoga.
“It was his choice and I know he was proud to do it – proud to serve the country he loved so much,” said Cheryl Walsh.
Walsh had wanted to become a police officer when he returned home. He joined the Santa Clara Police Explorer program when he was 17.
”Right from the start he was ambitious, excited and eager about his future in law enforcement,” said Police Activities League Director Bill Davis. “His dream was to be a K9 officer, and he loved going on ride-alongs with the officers. He probably had a couple hundred hours worth of ride-alongs where he was actually able to get in the front seat of the patrol car and go out on patrol. He loved doing that.”
Walsh is the second California National Guardsman to be killed in action in Afghanistan this month.
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