Hundreds attend visitation for Waseca Marine killed in action - KMSP-TV

Hundreds attend visitation for Waseca Marine killed in action

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Waseca community honors Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson on Sunday, March 9. | Photo by Jonathan Choe Waseca community honors Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson on Sunday, March 9. | Photo by Jonathan Choe
WASECA, Minn. (KMSP) -

Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson was just 20 years old when he died for his country in Afghanistan, and hundreds of people are preparing to say goodbye to a hometown hero in Waseca, Minn.

On Sunday, members of Erickson's family spent hours hugging and greeting the hundreds of mourners who came to the emotional visitation at Grace Lutheran Church.

"He was one of my family members serving," Carl Jurgensen, Erickson's cousin and a Navy Seaman, told Fox 9 News. "He was fighting for the same thing I was fighting for."

Erickson died in Afghanistan in a suicide bomb attack last week. He joined the Marines after graduating from Waseca High School in 2012, and Jurgensen said he embodied the family's tradition of service.

"In his death, I've never been more grateful," Jurgensen said. "I've never been more proud to serve my country."

Family members told Fox 9 News that Erickson died as he lived, loving what he did. Those who attended school with him echoed those sentiments as they remembered him.

"He loved the Marines," Hannah Neigebauer, a Waseca High School graduate, said. "He really wanted to go and serve our country."

Erickson's body arrived at the Owatonna Airport on Saturday. His fellow Marines consoled his family before a military honor guard procession along Old Highway 14 escorted Erickson back home while supporters lined the route to Waseca.

"In this day and age, it's hard to find young men -- kids who want to serve their country," Cathy Lindekugel said. "This young man did."

Many Waseca residents plan to leave their porch lights on until Erickson is buried on Monday as a means of remembering the young life lost and the others still fighting overseas.

"We still have men and women serving our country on foreign lands, and they're putting their lives at risk," Karla Richardson told Fox 9 News. "That's something we do need to remember."

Funeral and burial services are set for Monday, and Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered all flags be flown at half-staff in honor of Erickson.

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