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West Aurora High School Pays Respects To Fallen Soldier

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Christopher Patterson

Army Spc. Christopher Patterson was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan earlier this month. (Credit: CBS)

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AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — West Aurora High School paid tribute Friday to a former student who died fighting in Afghanistan.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, hundreds of people – students, teachers, parents and friends – watched in silence as the body of Army Spc. Christopher Patterson passed under an enormous American flag held aloft by two fire trucks at the school’s entrance.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Patterson was known for his musical talent and his patriotism.

“When we heard of his passing, my son was like, ‘Mom, if there’s anybody that would have been serving, it would have been him,’” one woman said.

“I just thought it was important to come out and pay our respects,” another said.

“I think patriotism is coming back to America. I think we kind of took it for granted for a while, but I think patriotism is coming back, and by the crowd that’s out here today showing respect for this young lad, it’s just wonderful,” a man said.

Patterson grew up in a military family in Aurora. attending Valparaiso University when he joined the Indiana National Guard.

Patterson’s unit, the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineer Company, was on active duty in Afghanistan when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb earlier this month.

Also killed was Spc. Brian Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Metzger of Indianapolis and Spc. Robert Tauteris Jr. of Hamlet, Ind. also died.

Another soldier, Pvt. Douglas Rachowicz from Hammond, Ind. was injured in the blast. He suffered a broken pelvis and collapsed lung.

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