Metro-East News

Pinckneyville community welcomes body of soldier killed in Kuwait back to her hometown

Sgt. Bolinski, killed in Kuwait, brought home to Pinckneyville, Illinois

The body of Army Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski, who died in Kuwait, was flown to Scott Air Force Base, then escorted to her hometown Pinckneyville, Illinois. Bolinski, with the 657th Army Reserve transportation unit, was killed in a crash on March 5.
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The body of Army Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski, who died in Kuwait, was flown to Scott Air Force Base, then escorted to her hometown Pinckneyville, Illinois. Bolinski, with the 657th Army Reserve transportation unit, was killed in a crash on March 5.

The body of a Pinckneyville soldier who died in Kuwait was flown to Scott Air Force Base on Monday and then escorted to the funeral home in her hometown.

Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski, 37, died in a crash earlier this month while on duty.

American flags lined roads in Pinckneyville and Nashville while volunteers flew flags on overpasses on Interstate 64 and Illinois 127 leading to Pinckneyville from Scott Air Force Base. The procession was escorted by vehicles from local fire departments, police departments, several sheriffs’ offices, the Illinois State Police and volunteers from veterans organizations.

Timothy Hedrick, a volunteer who had been helping Larry “The Flag Man” Eckhardt to set up flags along the route, said he came from Cutler to pay his respects for Bolinski in her hometown.

“It’s all about welcoming her home,” he said. “She gave the ultimate sacrifice and it’s sad to see. I hope something is done and her family can have closure.”

Bolinski, who was part of the Illinois-based 657th Army Reserve transportation unit, was killed in a car crash in Kuwait on March 5. She and another soldier in the unit, Spc. Jackson D. Johnson, 20, of Hillsboro, Missouri, were driving an SUV during a routine, authorized mission when a water truck struck the vehicle they were in at a T-intersection. Johnson also died in the crash.

Laci Lazenby, of Pinckneyville, talks about Sgt. Holli Bolinski, who was killed March 5 in Kuwait.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

Pinckneyville community members came out in droves to watch her remains returned home. They were from all walks of life, with everyone from retired U.S. Army veterans to children and their parents on the sidewalks.

“We’re all a part of the community,” said Pinckneyville resident Dennis Buck. Members of his group had grown up with Bolinski’s family and said the loss was felt deeply in the town.

Laci Lazenby, who went to school with Bolinski, said she thought Bolinski would appreciate all of the support of the community.

“The coming together ... I think she would love it,” Lazenby said. “I think everybody’s stepped up and played a part in bringing her home.”

Sgt. Holly Bolinski's body and procession arrive home in Pinckneyville on March 18, 2019.

Bolinski is survived by her husband, Robert M. Bolinski of Pinckneyville and her five children.

Visitation will be 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Bruno Catholic Church in Pinckneyville. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Bruno.

The Pyatt Funeral Home in Pinckneyville is handling arrangements.

Volunteers fly flags on the procession route on Interstate 64 near Damiansville in honor of Army Sgt. Holli Bolinski, who was killed in Kuwait and whose body was returning to Pinckneyville.

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