The body of a Peoria sailor killed while fighting in Afghanistan arrived in the valley Wednesday. His flag covered coffin was welcomed home by family members and close friends.
Chief Petty Officer Christian Pike was injured while fighting in Afghanistan. He was flown to a military hospital in Germany, but died from his injuries.
This loss is very personal for the FOX 10 family. His mother is our co-worker.
We had the chance to attend the homecoming ceremony for Chief Petty Officer Pike -- an emotional assignment but also an important one.
Christian Pike's mother is our co-worker and friend, and she allowed FOX 10 to be there when her son's body was flown back to the valley.
It's a solemn and time-honored military tradition known as a "dignified transfer." It honors those like Christian who have given their lives for the service of our country.
Inside a National Guard hangar at Sky Harbor Airport, family, friends, and Navy brothers and sisters gathered as the body of Chief Petty Officer Christian Michael Pike arrived back in the valley. His casket was carried by a Navy Honor guard.
The 31-year-old Peoria resident died after combat-related injuries he suffered on March 10 in Afghanistan.
His family describes him as always happy and joyous, quick with a smile and a joke who felt strongly about serving his country.
Inside the hangar was utter silence out of respect for the fallen sailor. Outside the gates, a group from the Patriot Guard Riders held hands and sung -- a tribute to the man they never knew personally, but knew he died fighting for our freedom.
They held American flags along the route as the hearse carrying Pike left the airport.
Pike was scheduled to return home next month after conducting stability operations for Operation Enduring Freedom.
His family says his organs were donated helping to save other lives. The procession escorting Pike to the mortuary was led by Patriot Guard riders and Peoria Police officers.
Once they arrived, there was final salute to a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
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