Eastern Kentucky communities show respect for local fallen soldier

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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Wednesday morning a procession began in Knoxville taking the remains of Staff Sergeant Abby Milam back to her hometown in Letcher County.

Milam was in a helicopter crash in August in the Hawaiian islands and she was declared missing with a handful of other soldiers. Days later, Army officials declared her dead.

More than a month later her family and friends were able to lay her to rest.

WYMT was in Knoxville Wednesday morning as a procession led by the Patriot Guard that spanned more than 180 miles brought Milam home.

Hundreds of people lined the streets in Downtown Hazard and Downtown Whitesburg to honor the fallen soldier.

While many retired veterans who attended the procession did not know Milam personally. They said since the military is like family, it is only right to show her respect.

"If I was on the receiving end, you know it just shows that though you may not have known her, she still meant something to you", said retired Army Sergeant First Class Ronald Wilson. "For you to take time out of your day and come out and support her."

State officials showed support during the procession because they understand that the family is still in a great deal of pain.

"As their family members are in service, they go through so much at home", said State Representative Chris Fugate. "And for something tragic like this to happen, and then for the family to see people support them, I think that uplifts them, I think it encourages them."

Local JROTC and color guard cadets saw how the community supports Milam. Ronald Wilson, their drill instructor said it helped them understand how similar the military is to a family.

"For us it's an honor to have the opportunity to support them and her family", said Wilson. "So to us it's a great privilege and a great honor."

Seeing the way so many people came together today, State Representative Fugate said the community is stronger than many people realize.

"The firemen, the schools are here", said State Representative Fugate. "Just people, ordinary citizens are here on the sidewalks to support our fallen soldier. I think that speaks volumes of how things are here."

Milam's funeral is scheduled for Saturday at one in the afternoon at Hemphill Freewill Baptist Church. The visitation will also be held at the church Friday night.

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