Home News Local News A hero comes home
A hero comes home
By Devan Schwartz
Monday morning in Baker City and an estimated 2,000 residents, many holding American flags, lined the streets to honor a fallen soldier.
They filled North Cedar Street, Campbell Street and Main Street all the way south to Gray’s West & Co. on Dewey Avenue.
Spc. Mabry Anders, 21, was killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 27.
His body arrived Monday morning at Baker City Municipal Airport, which is operated by Anders’ mother and stepfather, Genny and Troy Woydziak.
The Baker Elks Lodge flew a huge American flag over Cedar and Campbell. Smaller flags held by onlookers were donated by Michelle Dollar of Sunfire Realty.
“It was beautiful,” Dollar said. “And very touching.”
Dollar distributed one box of 140 flags herself. Two other boxes were distributed by Jacki Adams, owner of The Sycamore Tree, with some of her friends.
Gloria Schott was one of those friends.
“This was the very least we could do,” she said. “It makes us very proud that our community is doing this. I think this is a real picture of what small town America is all about.”
As the procession of vehicles began, Schott said: “I don’t think this kind of intimacy, this show of support would happen everywhere.”
First came the motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders and the American Legion Riders.
Then came the long flow of vehicles — police cars, fire engines, SUVs and a horse-drawn hearse.
Jacki Adams said, “I love how Baker supports their own. The procession was so meaningful for Troy and Genny, and Dan and Gretchen (Anders’ father and step-mother, who came from Shell, Wyo.).
“We returned downtown from the airport and people were already filling the streets,” Adams said. “Troy said when they arrived at Main Street the sidewalks and parking lanes had people everywhere.”
Joelene Murray, a bartender at The Main Event on Main Street, described one anonymous, and less orthodox, tribute to Anders.
About the time the procession was passing by on the street, a customer who didn’t identify himself ordered a shot of whisky from bartender Sarah Heiner.
The man didn’t drink the shot.
Instead, he left a handwritten note beneath the glass, reading: “Mabry Anders, thank you, all gave some and some gave all.”
Wayne Chastain, patrol officer with the Baker City Police Department and a veteran himself, said that the vehicular procession stretched all the way from the RV park near the freeway on North Cedar to the funeral home, a distance of more than two miles.
Chastain provided a list of all the agencies involved in honoring Mabry Anders this Labor Day (around 37 total vehicles):
• Baker City Police
• Baker County Sheriff
• Oregon State Police
• Baker City Fire
• Baker Rural Fire
• Haines Rural Fire
• Keating Rural Fire
• Oregon Forestry
Asked further about the widely-attended event, Jacki Adams said that “so many people were thankful for the opportunity to show their respects for Mabry and his family. A lot of people have served, or have family members who have served or they’ve lost someone. It’s so close to home.”
A tribute book for Mabry Anders is on a small table outside of the Sycamore Tree, 2108 Main St., which Adams encourages people to stop by and sign.