A U.S. Army paratrooper killed in action last month in Iraq will arrive home to Georgia Friday morning when his body is flown into Lawson Army Airfield at Fort Benning.
First Lt. Weston Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Ga., will be escorted home by a procession of law enforcement officers led by the Georgia State Patrol.
Lee, a platoon leader, was killed April 29, in Mosul, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated during a patrol. He was an infantry officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Georgia State Patrol Capt. Buddy Johnson is coordinating the procession that will take Lee from Fort Benning to a funeral home in Blakely, about 80 miles to the south.
There will be about 20 State Patrol cars and 10 members of the motor squad out of Atlanta leading the procession, Johnson said. Local law enforcement on the route will join as it passes through their communities.
“There is nothing more rewarding than to be a part of this escort of a fallen soldier,” Johnson said Thursday night. “This is how we can show our respect as we take Lt. Lee home.”
The plane bringing Lee from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware is scheduled to land at Fort Benning about 11 a.m.
Fort Benning officials will escort the body from the airfield to the main gate at Interstate 185. From there, the State Patrol will take over.
The route, which could change, Johnson said, is expected to go down Highway 520 to Cusseta where it will turn on U.S. 27 South. Plans call for the procession to go through downtown Cuthbert, then onto Lee’s hometown of Bluffton, where the procession will go past his childhood home, Johnson said. From Bluffton, the procession will proceed to Blakely, where it will go around the Early County Courthouse square before ending at Manry-Jordan-Hodges Funeral Home.
Lee graduated from the University of North Georgia in 2014 and was commissioned as an infantry officer in December of that year after earning a degree in criminal justice. Lee completed the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course, Ranger School and Airborne School at Fort Benning.
There will be a visitation at Ft. Gaines United Methodist Church Friday from 6-8 p.m. and a memorial service Saturday at the Early County High School auditorium at 2 p.m. The burial will be at a yet to be determined date at Arlington National Cemetery.