RALEIGH — It’s hard to not get emotional watching the video of a soldier’s casket being unloaded from a plane after landing at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport this week.
The video, captured by Lisa West Williams and posted to her Facebook page, shows a woman putting her hands on the casket to say goodbye before she was joined by several others who held each other close. The casket was then lifted by seven Green Beret soldiers and loaded into a black hearse.
Crying can be heard in the background of the video from passengers watching the scene through the plane’s windows.
The video had been shared by more than 100,000 Facebook users, and viewed more than 5.5 million times by noon on Friday.
According to ABC11, the casket belonged to Fort Bragg Special Forces Warrant Officer 1 Shawn Thomas.
Thomas died from non-combat injuries suffered during a vehicle accident in Niger, according to the Army Times.
Officials couldn’t specify the type of vehicle or any other details of the accident because of the ongoing investigation, said Sgt. 1st Class Victor Aguirre, a USASOC spokesman.
Thomas and members of his unit are part of a contingent of soldiers, both civil affairs and Special Forces, deployed to central Africa to train local troops and support the local population in countering the spread of terrorist groups, the Army Times said.
Thomas, 35, joined the Army in 2000 and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan a combined seven times. The Oklahoma native was posthumously awarded a Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal for his work in Niger.
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