Sgt. John Castro Returns Home

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ANDREWS - In Andrews, there was silence, the kind brought by Sgt. John Castro's sacrifice. A sacrifice honored by not only the people of Andrews but those who had come from miles around.

John Castro had become West Texas' fallen hero.

"It's been surreal, the support," John's Uncle, Hector Armendarize, said. "We're very thankful to the Andrews community and to all of the people who have been here praying for us, and I know they are, and that helps."

There was also apprehension at the threat of Westboro Baptist Church's protest but the community was prepared. 100 Patriot Guard riders escorted John to the James Roberts Center for his final good-bye.

The riders along with city officials stood outside on guard for Westboro.

"We're here if the uninvited guest happened to be in town. The family will not see them, they will not hear them," Teresa Galloway, State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of Texas, said. "We're going to drown them out."

"Part of the reason to be is to come here and protect and insulate the family and community from protesters," Andrews Volunteer Firefighter Thom Henley said, referring to the line of fire trucks that stood outside the James Roberts Center.

Flags waved and people cheered and saluted as the procession rolled on.

But there was nothing but reverent silence as John's casket arrived with his family.

"We must never forget our fallen heroes," Galloway said. "Without them, and the ones who are still currently serving for us, without them, we couldn't stand here."

It was this unity in Andrews that supported John's family, helping them face a future without him as they said their farewells at the center, attended by teeming crowds.

"I just thank God that we're in West Texas," Armendarize said. "What the community has done has really solidified the word 'love.'"

And at the end of the day, the one feeling that West Texans expressed was thanks. Thanks to John for his sacrifice.

"We're showing honor and respect to this fallen hero," Galloway said.

"It's amazing to see an entire community come out and support one of the soldiers who gave his life for our freedom," Henley said.

West Texas came together to honor one of their own.

A hero, whose sacrifice would not be forgotten.

NewsWest 9 spoke with Andrews law enforcement after the memorial and they said Westboro never showed up to the memorial.

Sgt. John Castro's body will be given a procession back to Midland Saturday morning, where he will be flown to be buried in Tennessee.