Community honors fallen hero - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Community honors fallen hero

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PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. -- Family members and friends laid to rest a fallen hero Thursday morning in her hometown of Pinckneyville. 

Sgt. Holli Bolinski died two weeks ago in a "non-combat" related accident in Kuwait.

It was a somber day as the fallen soldier traveled through Pinckeyville one last time and bystanders stopped to pay their final respects.

The 37-year-old was a wife and mother of five. 

Family member Kayla Arndt says Bolinski had an outgoing and loving personality. 

"She was a jokester and liked to play around and as long as everyone else was happy, then she was happy," Arndt said. 

Church bells rang before soldiers walked out of St. Bruno Catholic Church carrying the casket that held Bolinski. 

"I think everybody has a reassurance in knowing that it just isn't the family feeling this way, but everyone from the community feels the loss," Arndt said. 

At the cemetery, dozens listened to the volley of gunfire to honor the hero. 

"She would feel very honored and blessed to know all who was there," Arndt said. "I somewhat think she would have said, 'okay, enough is a enough, go on with life.'"

The thousands of flags set up on Sunday by community members blew in the wind during the graveside service. 

Bolinski's family says throughout this difficult time, the community in Pinckneyville has been behind them. 

One resident made 50 yellow ribbons to hang throughout the town to honor Bolinski. 

"From all of us, we really do appreciate what she did and the gesture," Arndt said. "It really means so much."

Bolinski was set to return home this summer and the family says they were already planning her return. 

"We had plans of big barbeques through the summer and spending extra time with the kids," Arndt said. 

But now the family is grateful for all the memories they have of Bolinski. 

"Just really take a minute to appreciate the opportunities and the things that we did get with her," Arndt said. 

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. 

Johnson was laid to rest at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis on Thursday.

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