Fallen St. Pete Marine returns home before funeral

Pinellas County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A family is mourning the loss of their son after he died in the service of his country. As hard as it is to have to bury your own child, a Tampa Bay area family is feeling the love and support from a grateful community.

It was one final trip home for Sgt. Anthony P. Muhlstadt.

“Tanya got the phone call none of us ever want to get,” Jackie June, with Greater Tampa Bay Blue Star Mothers said.

He came home like no mother ever wants to see their son come home; in a casket with an American flag draped over it.

“Some give all, and that was Tanya’s son today. He gave everything he had in service to our country, and he deserves to be remembered,” June said.

Sgt. Muhlstadt, a local man who grew up in the area, graduating from Northeast High in St. Petersburg, joined the Marines. He had been serving at Twenynine Palms in California when he passed away at just 23 years of age.

“Gold Star Mothers know exactly where that mother is right now. When that casket came out, we knew exactly what she felt,” said Kathy Wagner, American Gold Star Mothers.

Sgt. Muhlstadt’s mother was not alone when her son arrived. Marines stood ready to salute the fallen hero. Airport workers stood in reverence, passengers aboard the Southwest flight stayed in their seats and watched as Sgt. Muhlstadt was carried off, and travelers took the time to stop and wave American flags from a window above.

“There’s a bunch of people that stood here and just watched. Some were crying. It was amazing. It was just amazing,” said Wagner.

As the Muhlstadt family felt their world come crashing around them, the world stopped to thank their sacrifice.

“How beautiful it was, which sounds weird cause something like this shouldn’t be so beautiful, but just the way they give that ceremony to that family, and to give them that dignity that their child’s life mattered,” June said.

The family will have a viewing and funeral service for Sgt. Muhlstadt on Saturday. He will be buried Monday. In lieu of flowers, his family asks for donations to the Blue Star Mothers and Toys for Tots.

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