Southeast Texans show support for fallen Port Arthur soldier

The body of Spc. Anthony Maddox arrives at the Jack Brooks Airport.

Hundreds of Southeast Texans showed up early Friday morning, Aug. 2, to show their support and respect for the family of Spc. Anthony Maddox.

Maddox, 22, of Port Arthur, was killed Monday, July 22, in a work-related fuel explosion in Afghanistan that left him burned over 97 percent of his body.

His body arrived at the Jack Brooks Airport around 9 a.m. and was escorted to the Gabriel Funeral Home in Port Arthur.

Citizens, police officers, firefighters, teachers, coaches and friends showed up to watch the parade of bikers — the Patriot Guard Riders — and police escort the hearse carrying Maddox’s body along the route past Nederland High School where Maddox played linebacker for the Bulldogs.

“The turnout from the community was amazing; I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” said Jacob Orta, a friend of Maddox who played junior varsity football with him. “I expected it to be big, but I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was.”

Orta was at the airport when the plane arrived and described it as a silent and somber scene, but very patriotic as well.

“Everyone was really respectful,” he said. “I saw people he probably never even knew crying on the side of the road and people he did know crying on the side of the road. It lets the troops know that this community stands behind them.”

Judge Terrence Holmes, Beaumont city magistrate, said he was there when the family saw their son’s coffin being unloaded from the plane.

“It was very emotional to see the family break down when they saw the coffin for the first time,” he said. “The last time they saw their son he was alive. It was emotional for the family and the onlookers. He made the ultimate sacrifice. The least we can do is support someone who has laid down their life so we can enjoy our freedom.”

Funeral services for Maddox are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church at 3920 W. Cardinal Drive in Beaumont with a visitation from 9 a.m. until service time. Burial will follow in Houston National Cemetery at 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive in Houston under the direction of Gabriel Funeral Home.

 

Clay Thorp contributed to this article.

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