‘A hero’s welcome’: Family of Cpl. Page offers thanks as the fallen Omaha Marine returns home
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A grateful community showed its support for Cpl. Daegan Page and his family Friday afternoon.
And the family extended its thanks following the motorcade that brought the fallen Omaha Marine to Braman Mortuary in preparation for funeral services next week.
Omaha… you never looked better.
It was an amazing honor to bring Daegan home to the open arms of his hometown today.
We wish we could have stopped and thanked every person who took time out of their day to pay their respects to Daegan. We want you to know we saw all of you - police officers, firefighters, school children, veterans, service members, families, the brave souls camped out on every overpass, the construction workers along I-80 at 84th Street, the crowds all down Millard Avenue, the Patriot Guard riders, and all the thousands of people who waved flags, held signs, and even brought their dogs to salute Daegan. He would have been amazed.
Daegan’s homecoming was truly a hero’s welcome. Our hearts are still broken, but we are the lucky few who know what it is like to receive a hug from the city of Omaha.
Eppley Airfield authorities told 6 News that they had cleared the private plane carrying the remains of Cpl. Page, among the 13 troops killed Aug. 26 in a suicide bomber attack during the evacuation mission in Afghanistan late last month, for landing at about 1:10 p.m.
After the fallen Marine’s family watched as his remains were placed into the hearse, the procession of vehicles left the airport.
Omaha Police escorted the motorcade procession from Abbott Drive and Locust Street to 10th Street, then to Cass Street before traveling on the interstate. The motorcade traveled along I-480 to I-80, exiting at L Street, then continued to 132nd Street, onto Millard Avenue, and then to 144th Street, ending at Braman Mortuary, located at 6505 S. 144th St.
The first sign of community support for the family came into view on the corner of Abbot Drive and Locust Street. Many of those supporters were veterans. Among them was one veteran who made sure he didn’t miss the chance to pay his respects.
The 21-year Navy veteran who didn’t want to give his name said that when he took his post at about 10 a.m. Friday, it was all about Cpl. Page and the fallen Marine’s family.
“I’m going to pay my respects and make sure I can be here to honor a young man that’s coming home to his family. They’re grieving, and they need all the support from the community that they can get.”
Supporters came out by the hundreds Friday. Crowds grew larger by the hour.
People came from all over, waiting in the hot sun, flags in hand, to support the family and honor their son.
Kelli Naggatz also arrived early near the start of the procession Friday to decorate the route with American flags. It was an emotional day for the military veteran with two sons who have served in Afghanistan.
“It’s very hard and emotional when they’re away from the family and have no contact for a while, but mine made it home safe,” she said. “...It’s really hard and emotional, especially when the one platoon my son was in — some of them didn’t make it home.”
Cpl. Page’s family was escorted to the airport, arriving around 12:30 p.m., to watch the remains of their loved one moved respectfully from the plane to the head of the motorcade. The vehicles left Eppley Airfield just before 2 p.m., arriving at the mortuary just after 2:30 p.m.
People arrived holding the hands of their children, pushing the younger ones in strollers. Everyone gathering to pay their respects.
“I’m just so grateful for everything,” said Amber Jelen. “Someone’s willing to lay down their life for us so that we can enjoy our lives. You know, every one of us matters in my heart. ... Even though I didn’t know him, I feel like I lost a family member myself.”
Joan Wallace came with flags at the ready. She said she felt she had to be there.
“I think it is so important for the community where this young man grew up to support him and this tragic loss to his family he was fighting to save our country,” said Wallace, who was among those near the start of the motorcade.
“That young man’s smile, when they put his picture up, is priceless. And I just feel very emotional and proud to be here,” she said.
Encouraged by police in order to keep everyone safe, many lined interstate overpasses to view the procession, rather than stopping alongside the interstate.
It took just a few minutes for the procession to pass by.
“This is about him this is for him and for his family we want to make sure the family knows that we respect and honor their loss and they can reach out to any one of us and get the help that they need,” Wallace said.
Moments before the motorcade came through, the crowd fell silent. The moment made an impact on everyone along the way.
Sigird Olin Semien told 6 News she had come from Texas to be there Friday. Her son served alongside Cpl. Page.
“My son was in the 21 Battalion with him. And he is still deployed,” she said.
When the news broke about the bombing near Kabul airport, her heart sank.
“I immediately tried to get a hold of my son and was told that nothing can be said. You know something’s happening but you don’t know what is happening right away when you see the headlines,” Semien said.
The emotions are high, but Semien said she hopes Cpl. Page’s family finds peace in knowing his Marine family is here every step of the way.
“It’s overwhelming. It really is overwhelming,” she said. “I never thought this would happen to our kids. But I am proud to take my son’s place, and I am happy to support his family.”
When Friday’s procession had made its way out of downtown Omaha, that Navy veteran was no longer all alone. He was surrounded by supporters, surrounded by a community honoring a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“When you give your life serving your country, as this young man did, a certain amount of respect has been earned, and he’s earned more than most,” the veteran said. “We all come in young; some stay young forever.”
Watch Cpl. Page’s arrival at the mortuary
FUNERAL INFO: The family shared details about Cpl. Page’s funeral earlier this week: The service is planned for 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, located at 13271 Millard Ave.
Officials offer tributes
PHOTO/VIDEO TRIBUTES: Cpl. Page’s family has encouraged sharing messages, videos, and photos with them via a tribute Facebook page. 6 News also invites you to share videos and images of support here:
Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.