Metamora remembers local hero in a special way

By Beau Ebenezer

December 29, 2012 Updated Dec 31, 2012 at 10:56 AM CDT

METAMORA, Ill -- The ground was frozen solid Saturday morning, but that didn't stop more than 100 patriotic volunteers from spreading warmth and paying tribute to their fallen local hero.

"It's heart-warming. Ty was a real hero. He never asked why me. He was always positive, Becky and Jeff were always positive. They were an inspiration to everyone in this town and to everyone who knew him. So our hearts are broken for them and this is the least we could do," said local volunteer Karen Gansch.

More than 2,000 flags were mounted into the ground over six miles in the Village of Metamora.

It was all done to remember Marine Sergeant Tyler Ziegel, who past away Wednesday after falling on ice.

Ziegel was an Iraq War veteran, who became a symbol of survival after a car bomb explosion left him with severe burns and scars.

Family and friends of Ziegel say mounting flags was the least they could do to remember his spirit.

"If you were feeling down he would always kind of pick you up and tell you, ya know, what do you got to be sad about? I'm the one who looks like an alien. He always said he looked like an alien. But ya he always brought everyone back up and said don't worry about it. It will be alright," said Ziegels' family friend, Geri Cooper.

While many trucked through the cold for someone they were close to, Larry "The Flagman" Eckhardt, organized the remembrance without ever meeting Ziegel.

"They are still defending our freedom and they should have as much treatment paid to them as possible. Without them you wouldn't be able to ask me your questions and we wouldn't be able to put up the flag," said Flagman Larry Eckhardt.

The Flagman has paid tribute to almost one hundred fallen soldiers across the Midwest posting flags.

While the town of Metamora and the country lost a true hero, taking a drive through the town, it's clear he won't be forgotten.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.