PHILOMATH, Ore. – A community came together Thursday afternoon to honor Private First Class Cody Patterson as a motorcade procession passed through Philomath.
Hundreds of community members lined the streets, showing their support not only for the fallen soldier, but for his family as well. Patterson, a 24-year-old Philomath High School graduate, was killed less than two weeks ago in Afghanistan.
Businesses and community members have been placing yellow ribbons along the streets of Philomath for the past week. One business owner says it is the least she can do to show the community’s support for the troops and for Patterson’s family.
“You know, we always care about the people we know,” said Tracie Choi, the Philomath Dairy Queen owner. “But we need to care about the people we might not know also. And that’s kind of the case here. He was taking care of all of us.”
On Thursday, faces behind the yellow ribbons surfaced, lining down Main and Applegate Streets in Philomath to see the Patterson family drive by in the procession.
“I am very proud to be from here,” said Jenneca Crocker, one of Patterson’s classmates. “Not because of anything I did but because of the people in this community and the love that they show other fellow community members. It’s just incredible.”
Crocker says her family called her with the news of Patterson’s death last weekend.
“My heart sank and I got a huge knot in my stomach,” she said.
Crocker says she too is in the US Army, and she leaves this weekend for training on the East Coast. And she is bringing Patterson’s picture with her.
“Whether it gets hard or whether I get discouraged – whatever – I just remember that this is what he was doing; this is his passion and what he loved,” she said. “And I’m going to be fighting for the same thing he was, and it’s an honor to say that I can do that.”
Crocker says Patterson was the face and the voice of the televised morning announcements at Philomath High School. Every morning, she and the rest of the school became acquainted with Patterson and his sense of humor.
“In Philomath, many of us are OSU Beaver fans,” she said. “But Cody was a huge Duck fan, and he made sure everyone knew it! He was always cracking jokes about it.”
Crocker says if she remembers anything about Patterson, it will be his smile.
“He just loved his friends, loved his family; adored his sister. And he had the brightest smile that could light up anyone’s day.”
Patterson’s family is holding a public memorial service on Sunday at 2 pm. It will be at LaSells Stewart Center on the Oregon State University campus.