Dyer soldier's body returns from Afghanistan

April 30, 2012 3:29:31 PM PDT
The body of a Chicago-area soldier who was killed in Afghanistan is back home.

Staff Sergeant David Nowaczyk was from Dyer, Indiana. He died in an explosion earlier this month.

Hero, warrior, son, husband and father. Those are just a few of the words used Monday to describe Army Staff Sergeant David Nowaczyk as the fallen native son returned home.

"Our hero, parents, and his wife in particular have been going through a lot of stress, a lot of traveling," said Northwest Indiana Patriot Guard rider Dale Ready. "When he first returned to the States, out in Dover, they had to fly out and then they had a big memorial at Fort Carson...we're hoping that we'll be able to give them some better memories."

The former Dyer and Munster Indiana resident was killed April 15 when his military vehicle was struck by an IED, or improvised explosive device, while serving in Afghanistan. He was 32 years old.

Monday morning, the body of the hometown hero arrived at the Gary-Chicago International Airport from Fort Carson, Colorado, where there was a memorial service last week for Nowaczyk, who was stationed there since 2010.

Nowaczyk served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, including missions in 2006 and 2009. He had returned to the Kunar Province in MARCH as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Nowaczyk is survived by his wife, their children, and other relatives. They arrived to receive the highly decorated soldier, who received numerous medals and honors including two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart -- awarded posthumously.

The Northwest Indiana Patriot Guard escorted their soldier to the Hammond funeral home before Tuesday's visitation.

Relatives say Nowaczyk was a Mason, a Shriner, and a fan of the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks and White Sox. He was remembered Monday as a loving husband and father committed to family and country.

"We're here to show the family that we love them and support and honor not only David but all soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country," said Patriot Guard rider Ron Coleman.