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Crowd Greets Arrival of Fallen Marine in Loveland

March 29, 2019 GMT

Loveland lived up to its name Thursday afternoon as around 200 people turned out to greet the arrival of a military procession carrying the body of Marine Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz.

The procession carried his body from Denver International Airport to Loveland’s Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, where the gathered crowd greeted it by waving flags and singing “God Bless America.”

After a brief stop at the school, the procession continued on to Loveland’s Kibbey-Fishburn Funeral Home.

The Rev. Glen Schlecht, the senior pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, said Schultz’s family chose to have the procession stop at the church because Schultz had attended church there and wanted to provide a chance for the congregation to honor him.

Schlecht will perform a funeral service for Schultz at the church at 10 a.m. April 6. Schultz will be buried at Loveland Burial Park, next to his father, who died in a 2003 car accident.

According to Riley Schultz’s mother, Longmont resident Misty Schultz-McCoy, the family moved to Loveland from Minnesota in 1999. They then moved to Milliken in 2008 and to Longmont in 2011 after she remarried. Riley, however, continued attending school in Johnstown after they moved to Longmont, she said, and he graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2017.

On Thursday, Schultz-McCoy expressed appreciation for the supportive scene at Immanuel.

“I am amazed at how everybody has responded. It’s been amazing,” she said. “They shut down I-25 the whole way from the airport and all of the CDOT signs were in honor of him, which was unbelievable.”

Among those lining the entryway to the church was Loveland resident Jennifer Edwards, who lives near Immanuel and rushed over to it without even putting her shoes back on after getting home from work.

“My husband goes, ‘Don’t leave without shoes,’ and I said it doesn’t matter, I’ve just got to get there,” Edwards said. “I came because he is my hometown hero and if it wasn’t for people like him we wouldn’t be here.”

Many in the amassed crowd carried paper red, white and blue stars with the words “God Bless America” written on them.

Elizabeth Grimm, a fourth-grade teacher at the Immanuel Lutheran School that is attached to the church, said another teacher at the school came up with the idea to have the school’s fourth-grade students make 100 stars during the school day Thursday and pass them out to the crowd greeting the procession.

“We talked to the kids about patriotism, honor and respect and how God wants us to show kindness to all,” Grimm said. “We didn’t talk about exactly what happened to Riley, but we said he lost his life as a Marine serving our country and that we are able to have the freedom to attend a Christian school because the military protects that freedom.”

Several members of the Associated Veterans of Loveland were also on hand to salute the hearse carrying Schultz’s body as it arrived at the school. Standing near them was Jonah Plyter, who just signed his contract to enlist in the Navy two days ago.

“I wanted to be here to show pride in the people who serve and respect to someone who gave everything,” Plyter said.

Eva Knight, meanwhile, said she came out to respect the boy she had worked with on his confirmation at Immanuel when Schultz was 13 and who she had continued to follow through the pictures of him in the Marines that his grandmother Kitty Schultz would show her at church.

“My heart just goes out to Kitty, in particular,” Knight said. “Riley was a young man with so much potential.”

After the procession had departed for the funeral home, Riley’s stepfather, Dan McCoy, asked the Reporter-Herald to express his and Misty’s thanks to those who had come out.

“We meant to go over and do that as a family but by time we got the chance people had started to disperse,” he said. “We didn’t know what to expect pulling up here so obviously to see everyone was very, very impactful.”

The family found it a fitting reception for “an absolutely fearless” young man taken far too soon.

“This kid had a lot of guts, more than anyone that I have ever met,” McCoy said.