Crowds honor soldiers as remains come home
Friends, community salute two fallen members of ‘a big family’
More than 400 people lined the streets of Coeur d’Alene Friday afternoon to pay their respects to Spc. Nicholas W. Newby, one of two Coeur d’Alene soldiers killed recently in Iraq.
They started showing up more than two hours before the military procession escorted Newby’s remains to a downtown funeral home. They ranged in age from babies to a World War II veteran. By the time the procession passed the street outside Lake City High School, Newby’s alma mater, it was a tunnel of American flags, signs with good wishes, and veterans saluting.
Newby and Sgt. Nathan R. Beyers were killed July 7 when their convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device. The attack marked the deadliest day for North Idaho soldiers since combat began in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Friday around 11:30 a.m., a procession escorted Beyers’ remains from Spokane International Airport to a funeral home on North Division Street.
Members of their Idaho Army National Guard unit who had not deployed showed up to pay respects, as did Pam Katus, wife of Bravo Company 1st Sgt. Ray Katus. The soldiers were assigned to the 116th Cavalry Heavy Brigade Combat Team, based in Post Falls.
“They’re all good kids,” said Katus, of Rathdrum. “Bravo Company is a big family. They’re very close.” She remembered Newby’s “great sense of humor” and said Beyers was so excited to be a new “daddy” – Beyers and his wife, Vanessa, recently welcomed their first child.
Among the people lining the streets in Coeur d’Alene were Newby’s third-grade teacher, his next-door neighbor, friends of his younger brother, and his former girlfriend and her father.
“It’s a sad, sad day,” said Chris Moore, of Coeur d’Alene, as he waved a flag over Ramsey Road. Moore’s daughter, Ashley, dated Newby for two years until he left for boot camp. Chris Moore said Newby was “such as cool kid” who loved to play guitar, camp and hunt. “I just miss his smile. He had a great smile, man. I loved the kid. He made our country proud.”
Ashley Moore said Newby “was the most amazing musician,” who wrote poetry and songs. He talked about becoming either a police officer or a mechanic, she said. “He was very, very brave, and he never complained.”
Dozens more gathered to the south outside the Salvation Army Kroc Center, and in downtown Coeur d’Alene at the courthouse. At a fire station on Fourth Street, the procession passed beneath a huge American flag hanging from the outstretched ladder of a fire engine.