MOUNTAIN LAKE, Minn. — It was a procession fit for a hero.
"I've never seen this kind of support," said Mark Lea who organized Thursday's procession.
Hundreds of people lined the streets and bridges along the 133-mile journey home from MSP to Mountain Lake, MN in honor of Corporal Eric-John Niss-De Jesus.
The 24-year-old Marine drowned while off-duty, swimming off the coast of Japan while trying to save three other marines who were with him.
"Corporal Eric-John, such a talented young man, tragic story I mean top of his class in a small rural high school, accepted to Yale and chose to go to the University of Minnesota," said Jaye Duggan as he waited to pay his respects to the fallen Marine in Jordan.
"With him being so young he's just starting out his life and sacrificing his life to save other Marines, and taking his own life is a huge sacrifice," said Jenn Bohlsen who waited with her two sons in Jordan to see the procession stroll by.
For Bohlsen, the sentiments shared along the route are personal, having a husband who served in the military.
"He actually did serve overseas in Afghanistan for sixteen months during the operation enduring freedom," said Bohlsen. She went on to say, "I don't think we could ever do enough to respect them for what they have done."
It's not at all how a tightly knit town expected to see their local hero return home.
"I think every single person from Mountain Lake was out," said Lea.
However, the legacy Corporal Eric-John leaves behind is bringing people from every corner of the town together, surrounding his family with love.
"It's very heartwarming, its very moving without a doubt," said Lea.
Corporal Eric-John will be laid to rest in his hometown of Mountain Lake on Saturday.
To read his full obituary, click here.