UPDATED Wednesday, March 4, 2009 -- 5:00 p.m.
"He died a hero... served our country, and it's because of him we can be out here today," one woman says.
A community comes out to support the family of a fallen soldier.
A young man, killed last week in southern Afghanistan, is home.
Loved ones of Portage native -- Sgt. Daniel Thompson -- laid him to rest Wednesday.
Sgt. Thompson graduated from Portage High School, but people on the streets of the city Wednesday, showing their support, say you didn't have to know Thompson or his family to feel some of their pain.
And that's why this community came out in such a big way to pay its respects. People held flags or held their hands over their hearts for the funeral procession -- making its way from St. Mary's Catholic Church.
A roadside bomb killed the 24-year-old Army sergeant last week.
Those who stood outside say they wanted to show their thanks and their sympathy toward Thompson's family.
"This young man gave his life, he gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect all of our freedom ... and we owe it to him and his family today," Carol Weiss says.
Thompson was expected back home in Madison early next month for a 2-week leave and was expected home for good in August.
Most recently, he was assigned to the Florida National Guard's 715th Military Police Company. You might've also noticed Wednesday - flags at state facilities flying at half staff in honor of Sgt. Thompson.
UPDATED Wednesday, March 4, 2009 --- 11:20 a.m.
Sgt. Daniel Thompson's funeral is underway right now at St. Mary's Catholic Church.
Sgt. Thompson died last week, after being hit by a roadside bomb.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 --- 10:00 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- U.S. and Wisconsin flags at all state facilities will be flown at half-staff Wednesday in honor of a Portage soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Gov. Jim Doyle issued an executive order to that effect, noting that a memorial service is being held Wednesday for Army Sgt. Daniel Thompson.
The 24-year-old Thompson was killed Feb. 24 in a roadside bombing in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
He had served with the Wisconsin National Guard until 2007 and was in Afghanistan as a member of the Individual Ready Reserve assigned to the Florida National Guard's 715th Military Police Company.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
UPDATED Tuesday, March 3, 2009 --- 4:45 p.m.
Sgt. Daniel Thompson's visitation is underway right now at St. Mary's Catholic Church. It will continue until 8:00 p.m. this evening. It'll also be held from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. Mass of Christian Burial is set for 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
Sgt. Thompson died last week, after being hit by a roadside bomb.
UPDATED Thursday, February 26, 2009 --- 4:00 p.m.
A Wisconsin National guard soldier has died in Afghanistan. Twenty-four-year-old Sergeant Daniel Thompson was killed earlier this week, after being hit by a roadside bomb.
"His first deer. His uncle Mike and father Bob. My number one mom," said Lisa Thompson pointing to pictures of her family on their refrigerator.
It's a day Lisa and Bob Thompson hoped would never come.
"This is Daniel and his girlfriend Maria," she said holding another picture of her son in his army uniform. "He loved to dress up."
"This is in the Kandahar region where he was killed," she pointed out holding a photo of her son standing on top of a mountain with a valley behind him.
Lisa got the news Tuesday afternoon while working at a local bar at her part time job.
"They were wearing black coats. And I was waiting for some distributors to come in," she explained. "The man walked up and said, 'Lisa?' I was all happy and I said, 'yeah.' He said, 'can I talk to you for a minute?' I said, 'sure.' Then I noticed the gold star on his shoulder. And it hit me. And my heart stopped and it won't start again. This is my only child. I'll never have grandbabies. It's not fair."
A 2003 graduate of Portage High School, Sergeant Thompson enlisted in the National Guard after 911 when he was 17-years-old.
Added Lisa, "In 24 years he had eight years military. Three years college. A fantastic girlfriend. A brand new home. Great job. His future was right there for him. All he had to do was make it though August of 2009."
Which is when he was scheduled to return home after a year-long deployment. As the news of his death spread around Portage the support poured in.
"Oh my God," she explained. "Yesterday our house was full of such loving people."
Someone even placed miniature American flags in their front yard and put ribbons in their trees.
"I love you," she tearfully explained as she reminisced about her final words to her son a few days earlier on the phone. "And he said, 'I love you too. Talk to you soon.'"
Thompson is the first Columbia County soldier killed in Afghanistan or Iraq during these most recent conflicts. Three other soldiers also died in the attack.
There is no word yet on when funeral services will be held, but the family is leaning towards the middle of next week.
Despite claims that her son was a Specialist. Lisa says he was a Sergeant.
UPDATED Thursday, February 26, 2009 --- 11:15 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A 24-year-old soldier from Wisconsin killed in Afghanistan loved cars, playing hockey and his motorcycle.
Family members say Army Specialist Daniel James Thompson was the lead driver in a convoy and was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan Tuesday. Three other soldiers were also killed.
Thompson's mother, Lisa Thompson of Portage, says her son never disappointed her and that she was very proud of him.
Thompson is the eighth soldier or Marine from Wisconsin to die in fighting in Afghanistan.
Thompson is a 2003 graduate of Portage High School who left for Afghanistan in November and was due home for a two-week leave in early April. He was due to finish his tour of duty in August. He joined the Wisconsin National Guard in high school.
His family says Thompson earned a degree in criminal justice and law enforcement from Madison Area Technical College in 2006 and worked for security company in Madison. He planned to pursue a career as a police officer or explore his love of photography and art.
Thompson's fiancee, Maria Steinke, says the couple met in college and had a home together in Madison.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, February 26, 2009 --- 4:44 a.m.
PORTAGE, Wis. (AP) — A soldier from Wisconsin has died in Afghanistan.
Lisa Thompson said two military chaplains came to her workplace, Gordo's Bar and Grill in Portage, on Tuesday and informed her of the death of her 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Daniel James Thompson.
She said he was lead driver in a convoy and was killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. Three other soldiers also died.
Lisa Thompson said her husband, Bob, met her at work and they cried together, then had to tell her son's longtime girlfriend, Maria Steinke, what had happened.
Her son was a 2003 graduate of Portage High School.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.