GULFPORT (WLOX) -- It was a tearful return. And the beginning of a final farewell. Friday morning, a plane carried the body of Army Specialist Benjamin Brosh from Iraq back to South Mississippi. Brosh's death one week ago in Iraq left a huge hole in the hearts of his family.
The 22-year-old is remembered as a loving brother, a wonderful uncle, and a terrific son.
His plane landed at 9:21. His final journey from Iraq to the shores of south Mississippi was nearly complete. A stiff breeze starched the stars and stripes flying on top of an Air National Guard flag pole. Yet the tarmac below was breathless. For six minutes, nobody uttered a sound. And the gravity of the moment started to overcome loved ones.
As they fought back tears, the lead man with Mississippi's Honor Guard shouted, "Present arms." Those words broke the silence. But they stirred up a slew of emotions. Tears dripped down cheeks as the flag draped casket of Benjamin Brosh finally appeared in the door of a chartered jet.
The 22-year-old Army Specialist was the latest Mississippi soldier to lose his life in Iraq while bravely fighting for a democratic way of life. He died April 18 in an explosion near Balad, Iraq.
A week after that tragedy, the Honor Guard carried Brosh's body to a stand in front of a hearse. There, six soldiers meticulously folded the flag stretched across his casket When they were done, and the folded flag sat on top of the coffin, grief stricken family members stepped forward. The private moment they shared was gut wrenching and heartbreaking.
Brosh's mom and dad approached the casket together. They were followed by his siblings. Mrs. Brosh was the first to step away from the coffin. His dad was the last. James Brosh stood there, with one hand on the flag and the other on the casket, and barely moved. To onlookers, his two minute meditation felt like two hours.
Two different times, men approached the casket to check on Mr. Brosh. When he finally walked away, he leaned against an Air National Guard building and finally let out a breath.
"Present arms" was heard again over the breeze that blew across the tarmac. The family huddled together as Mississippi's Honor Guard place Benjamin Brosh's casket in a hearse. And then, they watched the hearse leave, knowing the former Gautier high student spent the last two year of his life doing what he always wanted to do, defending America's way of life in the Army.
Benjamin Brosh's funeral is at noon Saturday at Our Lady of Fatima Church. The Army Specialist will be laid to rest at the Biloxi National Cemetery. The family is asking anyone wanting to pay their respects to line Pass Road in Biloxi between the church and the cemetery between 1:00 and 1:30.