Pinckneyville's fallen soldier returns home - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Pinckneyville's fallen soldier returns home

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PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. -- Fallen soldier Sgt. Holli Bolinski returned to Perry County Monday afternoon in a procession led by area first responders and family members. 

Along the way back hundreds of people and thousands of flags lined the streets to pay tribute to Bolinski. 

The 37-year-old soldier died two weeks ago in a "non-combat" related accident in Kuwait.

The community is remembering Bolinski's loving personality and how proud she was to serve her country. 

Family member Kayla Arndt says the military gave Bolinski the opportunities she always dreamed of. 

"She has always been very driven, outgoing and wanted to make positive impacts on as many people as she possible could," Arndt said. "Holli knew what she was going to do and nothing was going to take her away from that."

Kendra Kelly was one of the family members in the procession from Scott Air Force Base to Pinckneyville on Monday. 

Kelly says it was touching to see people on every overpass on the interstate. 

"There were flags hanging and people on the side of the road stopping and waving their flags," Kelly said. "It was just an amazing sight."

Among the supporters in Pinckneyville, was Girl Scout Troop 8131.

"Our troop leader decided to have us come out here so we can wave our flags and honor Holli to salute to her," Junior Gabby Ellet said. 

Troop 8131 had a special bond with Sgt. Bolinski. She asked their troop leader Samantha Meadows if the girls could be pen pals to Bolinski's unit. 

"She asked me if it would be okay if her unit sending my girls letters, so she wrote down all the girls' name, put them in a hat, drew their name and have been writing back and forth since," Meadows said. 

Meadows daughter Saydee was Bolinski's pen pal. She received her first letter in November. 

"She said she was really glad she got to write to me and it was really hot where she was," Saydee said. 

The troop also sent Bolinski and her unit cookies for Christmas. 

The Girl Scouts said watching the procession was another way to demonstrate their respect and admiration. 

"We felt sad, but we respected her for fighting for our country," Brownie Serenity Mason said. 

"She fought for our country and our freedom," Brownie Keyonna Folden said. 

Gov. Pritzker ordered all flags to fly at half-staff starting Tuesday morning at sunrise until sunset on Thursday, March 21 in honor of Sgt. Bolinski. 

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.

Bolinski was one of three soldiers inside the military SUV when a commercial vehicle ran a stop sign. 

20-year-old Spc. Jackson Johnson of Hillsboro, Missouri also died in the incident. 

Bolinski's family is asking for volunteers to help remove the thousands of flags that were set up to honor the fallen solider on Thursday afternoon.

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 full obituary.

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