LENA, Ill. (WTVO) — An active U.S. Airman from Lena, who was killed in a traffic accident in Iowa, was honored with a funeral procession Thursday morning.
Senior Airman Colton Drye was on leave, traveling with his girlfriend, on his way home to see his family when he was killed in a car crash on I-80 near Walcott, Iowa this week.
His body was returned home to Lena on Thursday and was accompanied by a procession through town.
Family friend Chad Bawden said, “You know, I grew up with their big brother, Dustin, and just seeing him hurting today, the way he’s hurting, it hurts all of us, you know. That’s not easy.”
“Colton was a great person and he’s gone way too soon,” said Lena Fire Chief Brad Strong.
The residents of Lena stood along the street, surrounding the Drye family as his casket, draped in an American flag, was wheeled to the Leamon Funeral Home.
“To have one gone so young, who’s dedicated his life to the country that we live in, it hurts…it hurts,” said Bawden.
“In the fire service, we call it duty, honor, and tradition, and in the military, it was tradition, I guess,” Strong said. “That’s kind of the way I live my life and I like to help others when they need it.”
After Drye’s family was led inside the funeral home, those who knew Colton could be seen sharing in their grief.
“It just speaks volumes as to who Colton was as a person, and there is not much you can really say. You can look around and all the people crying in the street and… I just wanted the Drye family to know we’re all with them and behind them, and grieving with them today,” Bawden said.
A 2015 Le-Win graduate, Drye was the starting safety on the 2013 state championship team as a junior, and again on the 2014 quarterfinal team.
Serving in the USAF, Drye was stationed in Texas, and was returning home to visit family while on leave.
His visitation will be held at the Lena-Winslow High School on Sunday, August 4th, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Monday, August 5th, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Colton’s girlfriend is still in an Iowa hospital, in critical condition.