Middletown says goodbye to serviceman for second time in a year

Navy Corpsman Ryan Lohrey
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MIDDLETOWN, Ind. (WTHR) - Family, friends, veterans, and fellow sailors gathered at the Middletown Church of the Nazarene Monday for the calling and funeral of Navy Corpsman Ryan Lohrey.

The small town In Henry Country said goodbye to a serviceman for the second time in about a year.

American flags and yellow ribbons are everywhere in Middletown to remember and thank Lohrey for his ultimate sacrifice.

"That's the way it should be," said Ryan Ballard, third generation funeral director at Ballard and Sons in downtown Middletown. "This town comes out in droves for its military personnel."

Lohrey died three weeks ago in a military refueling plane crash in Mississippi. He was 30 years old.

"We feel like it's our youth that are volunteering and stepping forward and representing us and helping to defend us and our way of life," said Drew Cooper, Middletown clerk-treasurer and publisher of the weekly Middletown News. "I think we feel that pretty deeply around here."

Cooper's daughter graduated with Lohrey from Shenandoah High School in 2005.

"It's tough to see a young man and a family, everybody knows the family," said Cooper. "Our hearts are broken. There's no doubt about it."

Ballard played on the Shenandoah football team for two years with Lohrey.

"He is a product of what this community is," said Ballard. "He was a great positive product of this community. I'm from small town Indiana. These guys are going overseas and seeing and doing a lot more than most of us have ever seen or done. What we like to do is just wrap our arms around them and let them know that they're loved and that we care."

"A lot of people, if they didn't know him personally, they've heard a lot of good stories from other people who did," said Stephanie Matthews. "I'm very proud to be part of the town that does this for Halex Hale as well as for Ryan. It brings everybody together. If anything good can come out of it, it's lost connections it brings back and just the love that the town shows for one another. Anybody in this town you can ask for anything and they're right there for you."

Staff Sgt. Halex Hale
Staff Sgt. Halex Hale

Just last July, Middletown welcomed home the body of Air Force staff Sgt. Halex Hale, who died while stationed in Italy.

"This town has stepped up to the plate twice for this within the past year," said Ballard. "Quite honestly, it's refreshing to know that there are people who care for the people that in a sense serve us and provide us with the freedoms that we have."

"We know that these are our young men that volunteer, that take these risks for us," said Cooper. "I wouldn't trade living anywhere else."

Lohrey is survived by his wife Cassie. The couple were just married on June 3. Lohrey also has two children, Gavin and Maelyn. Ryan was the only child of Michael and Teresa Lohrey. Following the funeral with full U.S. Navy honors, Lohrey's body was taken on one last processional ride through his hometown of Middletown on the way to a New Castle funeral home for cremation.

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