Valley Airman's Somber Homecoming

January 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The body of a Valley Airman who died while serving in Afghanistan returned to the Valley today.Buchanan High School graduate Nicholas Eischen passed away in his sleep on Christmas Eve.

A military guard slowly moved Senior Airman Nick Eischen one step closer on his final journey home to Clovis from Afghanistan.

A police procession then took the 24-year old to the town where he grew up. Outside the funeral home, a fellow airman, a friend from Travis Air Force Base comforted his widow, Leah.

Cousin Craig Eischen looked on, holding an American flag. He says not knowing "why" Eischen died in his sleep while serving in Afghanistan has been a burden on the family.

"He was supposedly in a safe place, as far as safe goes in Afghanistan that just wasn't expected."

The Eischen's pastor says the family has been told it'll be at least six weeks before they get any answers from the military. Tim Rolen says he's known Nick since he was a young kid with a twinkle in his eye.

"I coached him on a Babe Ruth team for a couple of years. He was one of the easy goingest kids you kid ever want. He hated running. He was the biggest kid I had on a team."

The Eichen's only other child, Joey, also serves in the military. He was on medical leave when Nick died. Joey was supposed to return to his infantry unit this week, but "that" has been put off for now.

The brothers graduated from Buchanan High School, which has now lost six students in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wendy Januso's two sons are also Buchanan High graduates serving in the military. She waited outside the funeral home for hours to offer support for the Eischen family.

"Since the boys went into the service it's kind of like a little community that has been behind them. For me, it's just very important for them to know we all here for them."


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