BAYTOWN, Texas Members of the Baytown community joined family and friends Friday morning in saying their final farewells to Spc. Keith Grace Jr., a U.S. soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Grace, 26, of Baytown, was killed Aug. 11 along with two other soldiers in the Paktia Province when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. The soldiers were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell.
A funeral procession began at 10:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, located at 505 Rollingwood. People lined the route carrying flags in a demonstration of support for the fallen soldier.
Grace's body was escorted by police motorcycle units and a group of veterans as he was taken to Houston National Cemetery for burial.
Prior to joining the military, the Baytown soldier overcame great adversity to get where he was. At age 12, when his adoptive mother passed away, it was his friends who became family, one of them ultimately taking him in.
"He never called my mother and father by their name," best friend Garland Davis said. "It was 'Mom' and 'Dad,' and he stayed with us. He was always my brother. I could say he's my best friend, but realistically he's my brother."
"His friends were his family," Alan Vasquez, a childhood friend, said. "We were his family. We were his brothers."
Just when it seemed Grace had found his place in life, his life was snatched away.
"He never gave up," Davis said. "You could knock him down seven times and he'd get up eight. That's just who he was."
And that's how his friends would like to see him remembered.
"In the end, we all know the real family, who we are and he's got a lot of family backing him up right now," Davis said.