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Soldier killed in Afghanistan welcomed home

People lined the road to honor of U.S. Army Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, a South Side native.

A procession for U.S. Army Spc. Michael Nance, a soldier from the South Side who was killed in Afghanistan, travels down Central Avenue near Midway Airport, Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, 2019.
A procession for U.S. Army Spc. Michael Nance, a soldier from the South Side who was killed in Afghanistan, travels down Central Avenue near Midway Airport, Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, 2019.
Megan Nagorzanski/Sun-Times

John De Lozier stood silently at the roadside as the blue, red and white car lights flashed in the hot midday sun.

And when the hearse passed — somewhere in the middle of Friday’s police escort — De Lozier raised his hand to his heart.

The 70-year-old came to 56th Street and Central Avenue near Midway Airport to pay his respects to U.S. Army Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, a 24-year-old South Side native who died last month in Afghanistan — just three weeks into his first overseas tour.

Nance and 20-year-old Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer of Stryker, Ohio, died July 29 of wounds sustained in a combat-related incident in Tarin Kowt, in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have said two paratroopers were killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them at a military camp in the Uruzgan Province. The attacker was wounded and taken into custody.

Nance and Kreischer were assigned to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Visitation for Nance will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Leak & Sons Funeral Homes Country Club Hills location at 18400 S. Pulaski Road. A wake followed by services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St.

In addition to honoring Nance, De Lozier also came to view the hearse because of the wounds that have never quite healed — not from the scraps of shrapnel that sometimes wriggle to the surface of his skin. De Lozier’s mind drifts back to the Vietnam War, when he and many others like him had no welcome home at all.

“It was a different time then,” he said quietly. “You don’t hold a grudge, but that’s why we come out to see these young kids who go over there — the ones that paid the price.”

Vietnam War veteran John De Lozier poses for a portrait after watching the procession for U.S. Army Spc. Michael Nance, a soldier from the South Side who was killed in Afghanistan, Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, 2019.
Vietnam War veteran John De Lozier poses for a portrait after watching the procession for U.S. Army Spc. Michael Nance, a soldier from the South Side who was killed in Afghanistan, Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, 2019.
Megan Nagorzanski/Sun-Times

De Lozier, a retired AT&T employee, was one of three dozen or so who watched Nance’s casket pass by. Children waved American flags, shyly repeating the words their mothers had told them to say if asked why they had come. Two Chicago Fire Department ladders formed an arch over the roadway — with an American flag draped in the middle.

De Lozier said he’s been to Midway Airport twice, including Friday, to see returning servicemen and O’Hare Airport twice too. And he’ll be there, he said, the next time a soldier comes home.

Contributing: AP