A Henry County Navy Corpsman killed earlier this month in a Mississippi plane crash has returned to Indiana, with community members from two counties helping welcome him home.
Thursday’s rain did not stop more than 200 motorcyclists from escorting Ryan Lohrey home.
Members of Indiana’s Patriot Guard, the American Legion, American Veterans, the local police and fire departments, as well as community members all came to New Castle to pay their respects.
Vietnam veteran Bennie Rains had never met Lohrey or his family, but still felt an obligation to be there.
“This young sailor was a blood brother, but he was also a veteran to us all, and he was our hero,” he says.
American Veterans Post 12 Judge Advocate Randy Rouse helped coordinate the effort from AmVets to ensure members from across the state would be in attendance. He said motorcyclists from Hartford City, Muncie and Marion were part of the group escorting the procession. He also does not know the Lohrey family, but felt he had a responsibility to help with the procession due to a bond he says all veterans share.
“It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood. You talk about gangs now-a-days? We were in the baddest gang in the world. It’s called the United States Military. Ain’t nobody could whoop our ass. That’s just how it is.”
Lohrey was raised in Middletown, but he was taken to the Sproles Funeral Home in New Castle, because of a family connection. Lohrey’s father helped build the home. Kenny Norfleet is a friend of Lohrey’s father, He said that while the news of Lohrey’s death was devastating, the community support was reassuring.
“They had no idea how vast and how much Ryan’s life and his death have affected central Indiana,” he says. “Here’s all the firemen and the EMS and all the people out. I couldn’t believe how many people would stand there and held a salute for this whole bunch to go through. That’s a pretty good honor.”
A veteran of wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Lohrey received the Purple Heart as well as the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
That service in the military is part of what brought Don Finnegan to the procession. He helped launch a campaign called “Honor and Remember” that includes a new flag symbol for fallen veterans. The organization delivers personalized flags to the families of fallen service members, per the family’s request. Those flags have the name and rank of the service member along with the date of death and the branch of service. While one has been made for Lohrey’s family, Finnegan said the reason for coming to the procession had nothing to do with presenting the flag.
“We’re just here to always show the family that not only do we respect his service, his sacrifice, but the family’s sacrifice because they gave a part to us, for our freedom, and that’s how we look at it.”
Before joining the military, Lohrey played offensive and defensive tackle on Shenandoah High School’s football team. In his obituary, Lohrey is described as patient, humble and hard-working who also had a winning smile.
Allan Thomas, a veteran himself who also has never met the Lohrey family, felt Thursday’s community support should send a stronger message
“One nation under God. No matter race, religion, we’re here.”
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has asked for all Henry County flags to be flown half-staff on Monday, the day of Lohrey’s funeral.