North Texas town mourns soldier killed in Afghanistan


by Jonathan Betz / WFAA


Posted on December 12, 2010 at 5:06 PM

WEATHERFORD, Texas - It was a somber day on Saturday in Weatherford, as hundreds turned out for the funeral of 19-year-old Private First Class Austin Staggs.

Staggs and five others died when their unit was attacked in Afghanistan.

Dozens stood tall and silent - there were faces filled with grief and pride.

They were mourning with a family and a young woman, now a widow.

"He loved what he did and he was proud to be a soldier. He was just awesome," Sheena Staggs said.

Austin Staggs was buried in Fort Worth.

Only 19, yet already he was a husband and father of a two-year-old.

He was killed last week by a border policeman who turned his gun on the troops.

It was the deadliest attack of its kind in a year and felt hard in Weatherford, half a world away.

"It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that we have to be out here today," said mourner, Dawn King.

Staggs enlisted only 18 months ago. He was scheduled to return home in a few weeks, where he loved to fish and hunt.

"He was just a great person and he loved everybody," said Sheena Staggs.

It was a feeling returned by the town on Saturday, where strangers lined the streets with flags and signs and Patriot Guard Riders guided the casket.

"It's hard to do this, it really is... It's hard every single time and if it doesn't touch you deeply... you just don't have a heart," said Carlton Emmons, a Patriot Guard Rider.