Body of Middletown airman returns home

Airman Halex Hale

MIDDLETOWN (WTHR) - The residents of Middletown are welcomed home a local hero Thursday night.

They lined the streets with flags and ribbons for U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Halex Hale, who died earlier this month while stationed in Italy.

"He was an amazing man and very deserving of this," said a former neighbor, who was busy helping children plant flags Thursday.

Middletown is a town in mourning.

"People have been putting up the yellow bows all week. They put them along Raider Rd. on the way to the cemetery where he'll be buried and up on 236, where they will come from the airport tonight and bring his body home," said Brianna Chapman.

Hale served in Afghanistan. His body was found after he was reported missing from the Aviano Air Base. He went missing after leaving a barbecue with friends. Searchers found his body along a canal, but the cause of his death is still not clear.

What is clear is the emotion felt by those in the airman's hometown.

"It's been emotional to see all the yellow bows and all the flags," Chapman said.

Flags large and small, but the emotions are huge.

"It's the least we could do to bring him home," said a former neighbor and friend. "To welcome him home the way we didn't want to, but bringing him home."

The homecoming is due to start with the roar of a motorcycle. Indiana's Patriot Guard of military veterans are bringing a brother's body back.

"It's pretty amazing to see our town come together like that," Chapman said.

Hale's body will land at Indianapolis International Airport, then make its way to Middletown, where residents expect to welcome him home around 11 p.m.

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