MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 25-year-old Memphis soldier who was found dead in the woods last week after disappearing during an Army training exercise in Florida was laid to rest Saturday.
Friends, family and fellow soldiers packed into the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown to pay tribute to Army Specialist Cayln McLemore, 25.
"Every night since this happened, I’ve been having dreams and I’ve been talking to him in my dreams," said McLemore's best friend Mike Dixon.
"His name came up as one of the most dependable soldiers we had in the unit – one of those people that we just couldn’t spare," said First Lt. Leonard Glynn, McLemore's commander. "He was an inspiration to me and also his fellow comrades, and we appreciate that time that we’ve shared with him."
McLemore, a Melrose High School graduate, disappeared during a three-day military training exercise in Florida last Wednesday.
His family held out hope he would be found alive, but two days later, they got the news that his body had been found.
"He is just not a soldier, he is our family, he is our loved one," said Sgt. First Class Kristy Boyd, Operations NCO.
Boyd traveled to Florida to bring McLemore home.
"I have been in the Army a very long time and it’s a very hard duty to do," she said. "But I did not want him to be brought home by strangers."
But as loved ones say their final goodbyes, they’re finding comfort and strength in one another and the faith that even though McLemore’s time on earth was cut short, his memory will live on.
"He would give you the shirt off his back. There was nothing that I wouldn’t do for Calyn and there was nothing that Calyn wouldn’t do for me. This is gonna be a hard one to swallow," Dixon said. "Cayln, he’s always gonna be here. He’s not gone, he’s still with us."
Investigators aren’t saying yet how McLemore died, only that he likely wandered away from the training area after getting dehydrated.
It's unclear when his autopsy results will be released.