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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington soldier killed serving his country came home today. Sgt. T.J. Butler died during a suicide bombing attack last week in Afghanistan.

Supporters lined the streets to welcome him home.

“A young man got killed fighting for us,” supporter Daphne Rivenbark said.

Holding American flags, several people waited for Sgt. Butler Wednesday morning as his flag-draped casket arrived at Wilmington International Airport. The supporters say they decided it was necessary to come show their appreciation for Butler’s sacrifice.

“A lot of us, including myself, take for granted every day that these boys are over there fighting for our freedom, and freedom is not for free,” Rivenbark said.

With flags held high and motorcycle engines blaring, they escorted Butler to Andrews Mortuary on Market Street.

“He gave his life so that we can have the freedoms that we have today, and that’s the ultimate sacrifice,” veteran Scott Diamond said.

Supporters say they hope even more people come out to show their appreciation for Butler at his viewing and funeral this week.

“Soldiers like Sgt. Butler, who gave his life, actually knew that while he was over there he’s actually over there protecting us, and I think all of us as a community are thinking about that at one time collectively as we sit in his service should think about that,” Diamond said.

Turner Rogers, 16, says he understands the risks of serving his country, but he plans to fight for our freedom anyway.

“It’s definitely a possibility that it could happen to me or any of my friends that are currently serving right now, but as for me joining, it doesn’t weigh really heavily,” Rogers said.

Butler’s visitation is tomorrow from 6 until 9 p.m. at Andrews Mortuary on Market Street. His funeral is Friday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Wilmington.

Supporters are planning a human wall of appreciation tomorrow for the viewing and Friday on Market Street during the funeral. Everyone is invited to line the streets for the silent show of support. Click here for more information.

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