Hometown Reaction to a Fallen Soldier

February 9, 2011 Updated Feb 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

February 9, 2011 Updated Feb 9, 2011 at 12:22 PM EDT

Village of Lakewood, New York (WKBW)

The small Village of Lakewood along the south shore of Chautauqua Lake has been touched by tragedy...as one of their own loses his life in Afghanistan. The picturesque streets of the Village of Lakewood in Chautauqua County are the hometown of 21 year old Lance Corporal Aaron Swanson. News of his death has begun to reach the residents of this community.

Adam Brown taught Corporal Swanson at Southwestern High School, where he is also a track coach. "He was a great guy. He was a nice kid...very polite, respectful, worked hard. I don't ever remember him missing a day of track practice. He even came back after he graduated to try and help the other kids out. It's pretty sad. It's the first student I've ever had pass away. He was a really really good kid," Brown said.

Residents, who didn't know Swanson or his family, are upset by the news of his death. "I just think that it's incredibly sad. It's a small community and my heart goes out to his family. It's just very touching. What a wonderful young man..that he was there. It's just very sad," remarked Debbie Thomas, an area resident.

When a death like this one occurs close to home, people begin to think about the real cost of war. "I think it brings attention to the war we are fighting over there. I think you tend...it's something that happens to somebody else and it's far away and when it happens in your community...or to somebody you know...it really brings it home...what's happening over there," said Mike Mitchell, as walked down a street in the village.

Eyewitness News spoke to Arron's mother. She told us that he has 4 brothers and two sisters. His body is scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday afternoon. "Knowing this community, there will be a lot of support for the funeral. They always talk about Southwestern being a family...where he went to school. That's what it's about. It's about a family and we'll for him and his younger brother who is currently in high school. We'll do what ever we can to try and help him out. He'll always be remembered as a great person," Brown stated.