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Body of Hernando soldier killed in Afghanistan returns home

BROOKSVILLE — Army Spc. Justin Dean Coleman of Hernando Beach returned home Thursday evening.

In a 30-minute ceremony at the Hernando County Airport south of Brooksville, about two dozen people — family members, friends, an honor guard and members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group — gathered on the tarmac as Coleman's body arrived about 8 p.m. on a small charter jet from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Coleman's family was given several private minutes with the flag-draped casket. The soldier's father, Dean "Al" Coleman, and others wept quietly as the casket was transferred by an Army team to a waiting hearse.

Coleman, 21, was killed July 24 along with three other soldiers in a firefight near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. His unit was conducting security checks in a remote region where the military believes the Taliban may be holding captive Army Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who disappeared from his outpost a month ago.

Coleman is the fourth active-duty member of the military from Hernando County to be killed either in Afghanistan or Iraq since 2005.

The family will host a visitation from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Downing Funeral Home on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill. Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home, followed by a procession to the Florida National Cemetery near Bushnell, where Coleman will be buried.

Body of Hernando soldier killed in Afghanistan returns home 07/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 31, 2009 10:57am]
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