Many gather for solemn salute to fallen soldier, Jarett Yoder

Hundreds gather for solemn salute to fallen soldier

READING, Pa. - It was a tearful goodbye to a Berks County man who gave his life for his country.

Hundreds of family members, friends and fellow service members honored Chief Warrant Ofc. Jarett Yoder, a Pennsylvania National Guardsman killed in Afghanistan nearly two weeks ago.

Crowds of people stood at attention as Yoder's casket was carried out of the Feeney Funeral Home in Reading. His widow, Heather, and family members followed closely behind.

A procession filled the streets through the city. American flags were flying on the backs of motorcycles, fire trucks were draped in black bunting and a green stryker military vehicle carried Yoder's body.

Thirteen riders with the Blue Knights, a law enforcement motorcycle club, joined in.

"It's to honor all the service men and to honor Jarett for what he did for our country up until his death," said Det. Sgt. Brian Horner, Northern Berks Regional Police Dept.

The line of vehicles stretched for what seemed like miles down Penn Street. Students at St. Catharine of Siena School in Mount Penn lined the sidewalk, holding flags and signs that read, "Thank you" and "God Bless America," as the procession passed along Perkiomen Avenue.

"It was a nice thing we could do for what he did for us," said Nash Williamson, an 8th grader at the school.

The 2005 Oley Valley High School graduate was led to his final resting place at the Forest Hills Memorial Park in Exeter Township. Two Apache helicopters flew overhead as hundreds of people said goodbye.

"It was quite beautiful actually. It was touching to see so much respect being shown," said Kathy Bussells, who honored Yoder.

Yoder and fellow soldier, Matthew Ruffner, of Harrisburg, were killed April 9 when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. They risked their lives for their country, and now they're being called heroes.

"It feels really good to see people come together for a fallen hero," said Sgt. Anthony Shastay, Pa. National Guard.

A scholarship is being set up in Yoder's name for students at Oley Valley High School. The specifics are still being worked out, but donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch.

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