Hundreds of people lined the streets here Friday to pay final respects to Sgt. Joshua Desforges, a 23-year-old native son who died May 12 in Afghanistan.
He is the first Ludlow soldier to die in combat since the Vietnam War.
Under the sun, a solemn and virtually silent town watched as Desforges' body was driven through the streets. Schools were closed, red, white and blue ribbons were wrapped around utility poles, and several store marquees stated, "Joshua Desforges, American Hero."
"I just would hear Arlene (Desforges' mother) say what a wonderful son he was, and how proud she was of him," said Madeleine Resecki, who used to work with Arlene at a local school. "My heart just aches for the loss of her son. He dedicated his life to our country."
Anna Rodrigo didn't know the family, but she says Ludlow is so close-knit, any loss hits hard. She says Desforges' death felt very personal.
"My brother was in the Marines," Rodrigo said. "And he got killed six years ago, in a motorcycle accident. And he had the Marines come out, just like Josh did, and just hit close to home."
Another onlooker Friday, Ed O'Neil, held an American flag. His baseball cap said, "Korean Veteran." He was angry and frustrated at the death of another young person.
"What a waste," O'Neil said. "And for what? Same thing happened when I was in — ended up in a stalemate."
The funeral procession ended in a private ceremony at Westover Air Force Base, where Desforges was honored by Gov. Deval Patrick, military officials and his family.
This program aired on May 21, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.