LEESBURG -- Plans have been finalized to say farewell to a fallen hero.
The remains of Lance Cpl. Steven Sutton arrived at Kimbrell-Stern Funeral Directors Monday morning after a procession from Southwest Georgia Regional Airport led the hearse to the funeral home, officials at Kimbrell-Stern have confirmed.
The arrival of Sutton's body comes after it landed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware last week.
Sutton, 24, was killed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan during combat operations over the Memorial Day weekend. His funeral service is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Leesburg with interment to follow at Crown Hill Cemetery on Dawson Road in Albany.
A visitation is planned for 5 p.m.-8 p.m. today at Kimbrell-Stern. The family has reportedly asked that the funeral remain private, but crowds are expected to gather for the procession following the service.
The processional is expected to go from the Leesburg city limits along U.S. Highway 19 to Third Avenue in Albany. From there, it will proceed onto Dawson Road to Crown Hill Cemetery, the Marine's final resting place.
The procession that greeted Sutton at the airport on Monday included the Patriot Guard and Legion Riders, which are attached to the American Legion. The riders will be participating in the procession on Wednesday as well along a route that will include at least 1,000 American flags, officials with American Legion Post 30 confirm.
The Legion Riders link on Post 30's website states that Legion Riders sponsor or participate in local and national charity events in support of sponsoring the American Legion. The group raises money for such organizations as area veteran hospitals, battered women and children centers, various youth programs, low-income families, among others.
The Legion Riders founded a national movement called "Patriot Guard," meant to honor and protect the sanctity of military funerals and memorial services. The Patriot Guard Riders, through www.patriotguard.org, describe their main mission as attending the funeral services of fallen American service members as invited guests of the family.
They do so by showing respect for fallen heroes, their families and their communities as well as shielding the family and their friends from interruptions created by any protester or group of protesters through legal and non-violent means, the website says.
Born in Tifton, Sutton is a 2007 graduate of Lee County High School, his obituary states. He has been described by those who knew him as a "Gentle Giant." He joined the Marines in 2009 and was attached to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division.
There has been an account set up to help Sutton's family offset the cost of the funeral as well as other expenses. Those wishing to contribute may donate to the Steven Sutton Memorial Account, c/o Heritage Bank of the South, P.O. Box 50728, Albany, Ga., 31703.
Marvin Mixon with American Legion Post 30 said his organization will be distributing American Flags every 150 feet along the processional route. Mixon said American Legion members will be handing out flags at 1:30 p.m. in Leesburg and will retrieve them immediately after the procession as it travels from Leesburg to the cemetery.