RIPLEY, Tenn. — Family and friends gathered Monday to remember the life of a Ripley, Tennessee soldier shot to death at the National Guard Armory in Perry County.
Sergeant First Class Michael Braden of Ripley was killed inside the armory Wednesday.
A 15-year-old is accused of pulling the trigger.
Monday, a woman who served alongside sergeant Braden in Kuwait, was among the scores of mourners at Garner Funeral Home in Ripley.
“You expect this when you’re overseas. You don’t expect this in your armory,” said Sarah King.
King was deployed to Kuwait with Sergeant First Class Michael Braden in 2007 and 2008 and drove 14-hours from Wisconsin to be at Braden’s funeral Monday in Ripley, Tennessee.
She was joined by scores of others who came to mourn Braden.
King said it’s hard to comprehend what would make anyone, including 15-year old Christopher Farrar, the teen accused for the shooting, commit such a tragic crime.
“And I can’t even imagine for his wife and kid, how much they don’t understand, cause we don’t get it. A 15-year-old kid, just so many questions. And they’ll never be answered, which is probably rougher,” said Sarah King.
Three hours before Braden’s funeral, members of a military honor guard were rehearsing at Maplewood Cemetery in Ripley.
They were making sure every crease in the American flag would be perfect and their 21-gun salute would be flawless.
The story of Sergeant Braden’s death is even more tragic, because hours before his death he dropped his 17-year old son Wyatt off at the National Guard recruiter’s office in Jackson.
Wyatt intended to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlist in the National Guard.
The tragedy won’t stop Wyatt Braden from pursuing that goal, nor will it make him forget the 27-years his father devoted to the National Guard.
“It’s definitely going to be something I think about as I put on my uniform, “said Wyatt Braden, son of Sgt. 1st Class Michael Braden.
Monday, civilians and soldiers paid their respects the soldier and their support for the family he’s left behind.
Among them were dozens of members of the Patriot Guard Riders, who serve as escorts for military funerals.
Sarah King said many of the riders have served in combat and were deployed at the same time Michael Braden was.
King said the show of support for the fallen comrade is impressive, “Everybody is seeing what he meant to everyone. And he was such a good, good man.”
Christopher Farrar, 15, is being held without bond.
Investigators say Farrar gained access to the armory in Lobelville and fired several shots, one of which hit Sgt. Braden.
Investigators have not released a motive for the shooting.