U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kelly Richards receives hero homecoming in Grayling
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Hundreds of Grayling area residents and others from surrounding areas lined the streets of the community to give a hero’s homecoming to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kelly Richards.
People waved American flags as Richards was brought back to Grayling on Thursday, October 3.
Michigan State Police escorted Richards’ family to the Detroit Metro Airport, where his remains were transferred to a hearse from the Sorenson-Lockwood Funeral Home.
The procession of vehicles led by the Michigan State Police made their way to Grayling. Police vehicles and fire trucks lined overpasses along I-75 as the procession traveled north.
The procession was met at the Crawford County line, and was led into the community by vehicles from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, the Roscommon County Sheriff’s Office, the Grayling Department of Public Safety, the Beaver Creek Fire Department, Grayling Fire Department, and Frederic Fire Department.
Ladder trucks from the Grayling Fire Department and Lyon Township formed an arc flying American flags as the procession traveled down the I-75 Business Loop.
A number of people gathered outside the American Legion Post #106 to give Richards a hero’s homecoming.
Parents, children, and hundreds of soldiers also stood along Michigan Avenue to honor Richards.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff on Tuesday, October 8, to honor the service of Richards, which coincided with his military funeral.
“Staff Sgt. Richards embodied everything that makes our state so great, and his passing is a tremendous loss,” Whitmer said. “He was a leader through and through who maintained a commitment to bettering himself and his team to make sure that they were prepared at all times. We are grateful for his service, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
A resident of Grayling, Staff Sgt. Richards was serving as a health care specialist with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry at Fort Carson in Colorado. He was deployed to the Middle East under Operation Spartan Shield. Staff Sgt. Richards passed away on Wednesday, September 25 at the age of 32-years-old while competing for an expert field medical badge at Camp Casey in Seoul, South Korea.
Staff Sgt. Richards was born in Petoskey and raised in Boyne City and Grayling. He joined the Army after graduating from Grayling High School in 2005. He loved outdoor activities, including riding his motorcycle, mountain biking, scuba diving, surfing, and roller coasters.
Staff Sgt. Richards is survived by his wife, Rachel, mom and stepdad, Michelle and Andrew, father and stepmother, Todd and Judy, and nine siblings.