BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – He died half-way around the world, but tonight, U.S. Army soldier, Nicholas Panipinto is back home in Bradenton.
A plane returned his body at Tampa International Airport.
Dozens of family and friends met his flag-draped casket on the ramp for the emotional reunion.
Nick’s dad is remaining strong, despite such a loss. “Step by step. Day by day. Hour by hour. Getting my boy back today, so it’s a good day. It’s a good day. We can’t wait to see him” said Anthony Panipinto.
Lining the route to Manatee County, well-wishers waved flags and bid a sad farewell to the 20-year-old soldier who lost his life in a training accident in Korea.
“Gives me chills. I just, it’s a good feeling to support the military and a fallen soldier” said Michelle Sloan.
Many along with the road home, don’t know Nick or his family but felt compelled to come out and pay their respects.
“It’s very touching. Very touching. And all the people with their flags, the procession. With just all his friends. He’s a young guy” said Angela Jackson.
Nick will be laid to rest next Wednesday at the Sarasota National Cemetery.
“I want 10,000 people there. I just want everybody to know my boy and celebrate him and celebrate all of our soldiers that have fallen” said Anthony Panipinto.
Nick’s dad is grateful to the hundreds who showed up to line the route back home. He called it “amazing.”