Hundreds of people lined Highway 50 and Emerald Bay Road near the "Y" on Monday afternoon to honor fallen Army sergeant and South Shore resident Timothy Smith as his body was brought home from Iraq.
Red, white and blue signs reading "We will never forget" and "Timmy Smith is a hero" were scattered among the numerous American flags waved by members of the crowd.
Many of the supporters had tears in their eyes and reached for hugs after the hearse carrying Smith's casket drove slowly past, preceded by members of the Patriot Guard and followed by vehicles from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, California Highway Patrol, South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Tahoe Douglas Fire Department.
At one point, the funeral procession stretched from McFarlane Mortuary to the exit of Lake Tahoe Airport, where dozens of supporters had earlier gathered to witness the arrival of Smith's casket.
Although a brief applause came from the airport balcony as the plane carrying Smith's body touched down, the crowd soon stood quietly as his casket was carefully unloaded from the plane and placed into a hearse.
The solemn silence of the crowd was broken only by muffled sobs, Monday's howling wind and the haunting cries of Smith's family members as they ran to the plane and wept over Smith's American flag-draped casket.
Smith's body was accompanied on its journey from Iraq by Sgt. Brandon Lords, who was among the soldiers who came to Smith's aid after he was critically injured in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad on April 7, said Smith's wife, Shayna Richards-Smith.
Lords and Timothy Smith had an agreement that if either one of them were to die overseas, the other soldier would accompany the body of the deceased on its trip home.
Timothy Smith's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Sierra Community Church at 1165 Sierra Blvd. in South Lake Tahoe. The ceremony is open to the public, according to a statement from the Nevada National Guard.