The body of Pfc. Albert Ronald Jex, who was killed while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq on Monday, returned to Lockport Sunday morning.

A cavalcade of 12 vehicles made the 25-mile trip with the family from the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to the funeral home in Lockport.

There were several pockets of veterans and mourners along Lincoln Avenue, at the Children’s Memorial and about 75 people at the Veteran’s Memorial on East Avenue. Police cars, limousines and military cars drove by the hospital about 10:30 a.m. There, people held flags, put their hands to their hearts and saluted.

“I was just amazed, as we got closer and closer there was a nice line up of people,” said Albert Jex’s mother, Cathy MacFarlane, said.

One anonymous 23-year-old man did a little extra while waiting on the route. The flag at the Veterans Park was flying at half-staff, but the flag at the hospital was not. “A young man, a friend of Albert Jex, was standing with us,” David Knight, commander of the American Legion Post 410 said. “He ran across street and moved the flag to half-staff.”

Knight applauded the initiative of the man who was only introduced as “J.T.” The parents do not know who J.T. is, but Albert’s mother guessed he was a classmate of her son.

Albert Jex, 23, is the first Lockport native killed in the war in Iraq. He was one of four soldiers who died of wounds suffered when an explosive device blew up near their vehicle on Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq. Albert was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

When the family met the chartered plane at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 9:30 a.m. Albert Jex’s little brother volunteered to help. As a full color guard moved the coffin from the plane, James MacFarlane, 11, stepped in to assist.

The six soldiers welcomed the boy.

“He already started his duties when they took him off the plane,” Cathy MacFarlane said of James. The boy also assisted when the coffin was moved into the funeral home about an hour later in Lockport.

There were about 12 official vehicles — including Lockport, Buffalo and Amherst police and the Niagara County Sheriffs Department — in the cavalcade that escorted the family from the airport to Prudden and Kandt Funeral Home.

Two humvees from Willow Street Armory participated. Albert Jex was a 50-caliber gunner on a humvee that was targeted by a suicide bomber. A representative from Fort Hood drove with the family, along with two casualty officers.

“He’s home now, and it took a lot of pressure off,” said Albert’s father, Nelson Jex.

Relatives and friends may call at the funeral home on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 6965 Chestnut Ridge Road.

The Lockport-based Partnership in Patriotism hopes that on Thursday, people will line Genesee Street to Washburn Street; Main Street to East Avenue (Route 31) to Mount Olive Lutheran Church.

American Legion Post 410 B Leo Dolan plans a memorial ceremony, led Knight, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Burial will take place in the veterans’ section of Cold Spring Cemetery.

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