Standing in salute or holding American flags, dozens lined the street in Waterford Saturday as the hearse carrying Sgt. Edwin Rivera's casket was escorted from Camp Rell in Niantic to his final resting place at Jordan Cemetery.
Many who came to pay their respects didn't even know the 28-year-old Waterford native. "It's nice to see this many people out here, whether you knew him or whether you didn't," said Amy Annibalini of Waterford.
The Arrmy National Guardsman died last week from injuries he suffered while fighting in Afghanistan, during his second tour there.
A flag that had been draped over his casket was folded ceremoniously, one aspect of his burial with full military honors.
Sgt. Rivera leaves behind a wife, two sons, and other relatives who are holding tight to each other.
"His family needs to know they have all the support of their hometown and everyone is willing to come out and respect their son for what's he's given, which is the ultimate sacrifice, his life," said David Keith of Waterford.
A gun salute broke the stillness at Jordan Cemetery and then there was a somber playing of Taps before one final military tribute, as four helicopters flew in formation over Sgt. Rivera's gravesite.
"As bad as it is for his family, maybe this will be some comfort," said Keith.
Sgt. Rivera's family will be presented with three medals in his honor -- the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantrymen's Badge.