BROCKTON (CBS) — The funeral for Sgt. Elder Fernandes was held in Brockton on Saturday. Fernandes was found dead last week about 30 miles from Fort Hood, the Army base in Texas where he was stationed. He was 23.
It was a sad day for family and friends Fernandes, as they said goodbye to the Brockton native. His casket, draped with an American flag, slowly made its way inside St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton.
The community of Brockton lined East Main Street on Saturday morning to pay their respects to a soldier and one of their own.
“Very sad. It could have been my son, it could have been my cousin, it could have been anybody…. It’s very sad,” said a Brockton resident, who watched the procession with his family by his side.
The national organization, Patriot Guard Riders, lined the outside of the church with flags to honor the fallen soldier.
“He did serve our country. He did volunteer. That’s a very courageous thing,” said Patriot Guard Rider Larry Drum.
Inside the church, about 120 guests wore masks. Despite the need to comfort each other, family and friends remained socially distance..
The priest offered words of comfort to the family in their time of need. “Jesus meets us in our confusion. He meets us in our sadness.”
Going on to say, “Elder, lived his young life striving for greatness.”
A soldier at Fort Hood in Texas, Fernandes went missing last month. A week later, his body was found hanging from a tree, about 30 miles from the base.
Investigators do not suspect foul play. Fernandes is one of several recent deaths and disappearances of soldiers at Fort Hood Base. Lawmakers and members of Fernandes’ family are demanding a private investigation. His family said he had earlier reported being sexually assaulted by a superior on base.
“We will continue to look for answers as to what happened to Sgt. Elder Fernandes,” said Brockton City Councilor Moises Rodrigues
Fernandes was laid to rest at Melrose Cemetary in Brockton.
Since Fernandes’s death, the Army has named a new senior commander at Fort Hood who will investigate the disappearance and death of another soldier based there earlier this year.