KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. -- A fallen First Coast soldier whose remains were returned home Saturday was honored Monday afternoon in Clay County.
Sgt. Dick A. Lee of Keystone Heights, Fla., died April 26 from injuries sustained while he supported combat operations in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan. His remains arrived at NAS Jacksonville on May 12.
A procession was held Monday afternoon. Mourners included Sgt. Lee's family and friends. A parade of motorcycles from different military organizations also took part.
The procession started at the intersection of Wells Road and Blanding Boulevard and ended at Keystone Heights High School football stadium.
A memorial service was held at Keystone Heights High School at 7 p.m.
"It is only fitting that he has returned from the battle field to his favorite football field," said Ben Wortham, Clay County schools superintendent.
Lee's family, including his wife, Katherine and two young sons, listened as friends spoke of the man affectionately known as Opie.
"Opie was a man who loved a challenge, and he accelled at anything he attempted," said Lee's best friend Joseph Sares. "His overwhelming sense of country and patriotism led to the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life to our country. His devotion, legacy and name will never be forgotten."
Lee will be buried at Jacksonville Memorial Gardens.
Lee, 31, graduated from Keystone Heights High School in 2000. He joined the army to become a military police K-9 handler. His assigned Military Working Dog, Fibi, died April 26, as well.
Lee was attached to the 529th Military Police Company, 95th MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade in Sembach, Germany. He deployed to Afghanistan in January 2012.
His personal awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal, all awarded posthumously. While living, Lee earned five Army Commendation medals, an Army Achievement medal, three Army Good conduct medals, a National Defense Service medal, an Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, two Afghanistan Campaign medals with Bronze Service Stars, A Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service medal, two Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development ribbons, An Army Service ribbon, two Overseas Service ribbons, two NATO medals, a combat action badge, and a Combat and Special Skills badge and a Basic Marksmanship Qualification badge.
The American Legion has an account set up for the family of Sgt. Dick Lee. Deposits may be made to the "Sgt. Lee Memorial Fund" at Capital City Bank. The family has requested donations in lieu of flowers. If flowers are sent, they may be delivered to the school's football stadium for display at the ceremony but must be delivered no later than 4 p.m. on May 14th.
First Coast News