A motorcade escorting the body of Staff Sgt. Brandon Silk traveled Wednesday from Bangor to Old Town through his hometown of Orono, where what seemed like an entire town turned out to pay tribute to the fallen soldier.
During the 15-mile procession from the Maine Army National Guard base in Bangor to the United Baptist Church in Old Town, hundreds of spectators lined the streets holding signs, waving flags and stifling tears. The biggest crowds were in Orono, where Silk, 25, had gone to high school and where his parents still reside.
Silk, a soldier with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, died early last week in Afghanistan after a hard landing in a Black Hawk helicopter. His funeral and burial are scheduled for Friday in Old Town.
On Wednesday morning, the soldier’s parents, Mark and Lynn Silk, and his two brothers, David Silk, 22, and Blaine Silk, 18, stood with several other family members and friends as the private charter plane carrying their loved one’s body landed in Bangor. A group of six uniformed soldiers carried the dark wood, flag-draped casket from the plane to a waiting hearse.
A motorcade of more than 20 vehicles accompanied Silk from Bangor through his hometown and on to Old Town.
In downtown Orono, Maine State Police troopers lined up outside the barracks. Members of the Orono High School football team, for which Silk once played, wore their jerseys. In Old Town, several workers stood outside the Old Town Fuel & Fiber facility on U.S. Route 2. Even people who likely never knew Silk stood on their front porches or lawns to watch the procession go by.
Silk died during his fourth tour of duty since 2003, when he enlisted in the Army shortly after his high school graduation. He had been to Korea, Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. He grew up in a military family. Mark Silk also was a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division and his other sons both are guardsmen with the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor.
Silk’s family said that before his most recent deployment, he turned down a promotion because he didn’t want a desk job. Everything else was boring when compared with the rush of riding on and maintaining Black Hawk helicopters.
“He wanted to go out with his boots on,” Mark Silk said of his son during an interview last week. “I think his hair was on fire his whole life.”
Visiting hours will be from 4 to 8 tonight at the Birmingham Funeral Home at 287 South Main St., Old Town. Silk’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday at United Baptist Church on Middle Street in Old Town. A graveside service at Lawndale Cemetery will immediately follow and will feature full military honors and a Black Hawk helicopter flyover.