2,000 flags surround community for fallen soldier - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

2,000 flags surround community for fallen soldier

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PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. -- Hundreds of volunteers gathered Sunday in Pinckneyville to honor a fallen soldier. 

Sgt. Holli Bolinski died in a "non-combat" related incident in Kuwait on March 5. 

Nearly two weeks after Bolinski died, the "Flag Man" and volunteers are preparing to welcome home the Pinckneyville native. 

Thousands of American Flags were placed along the streets of Pinckneyville on Sunday by family, friends and strangers. 

Family member Kayla Arndt remembers Holli as a loving wife and mother of five who was always happy, helpful and full of life. 

"It's amazing to know that so many people want to give back to honor her memory," Arndt said. "She would light up a room when she walked in. She had that outgoing, do anything for anybody type of personality."

Arndt says Bolinski's family is humbled by the outpouring of support and prayers. 

Bolinski's body is set to return to Pinckneyville on Monday afternoon and she will have 2,000 flags greeting her and her family.

Larry Eckhardt is from northwest Illinois and is known as "The Flag Man."

For the past 14 years, Eckhardt has traveled throughout the Midwest bringing thousands of flags to communities of fallen soldiers. 

"It brings everybody together and it's the community's final gift to her (Bolinski) because it's definitely a beautiful tribute," Eckhardt said. "These young men and women give it all up for the flag and the flag should protect them on the way home."

Eckhardt owns 3,500 American Flags, but when he comes to a city like Pinckneyville to help pay tribute to those who lost their lives, he doesn't set them up by himself. 

That's where volunteers like Du Quoin Navy Veteran Ray Ramsey help make it happen. 

"It's a somber experience to know that this young lady lost her life for our country but it's an honor just to be here and help the community realize how good of a person she was."

Funeral arrangements for Bolinski are as follows:

Visitation will be held at St. Bruno Catholic Church, Pinckeyville on Wednesday, March 20,  from 3:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. and again on Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.  The Rosary will be recited at the church on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

A mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Bruno Catholic Church in Pinckeyville on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. Interment will be held in St. Bruno Catholic Cemetery, Pinckneyville, IL.  Military graveside rites will be conducted by Presswood-Daffron American Legion Post #2504 and the United States Army.

After the funeral, Larry is asking for volunteers to help take down the flags. 

Volunteers are asked to meet in the Knights of Columbus Hall parking lot in Pinckneyville at 3 p.m.

Click here to visit Bolinski's obituary.

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