LINCOLNTON, Ga. - Sgt. James Kinlow was remembered Wednesday as a quiet man who respected others and was quick with a smile.
And he was also a man who loved his family and was prepared to die for his country.
"He's my hero," said the Rev. Dennis J. Quinn, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Lincolnton, the church Sgt. Kinlow and his family attended.
Sgt. Kinlow was killed July 24 along with three other soldiers in the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Combat Brigade when a roadside bomb destroyed their Humvee in Iraq.
The funeral for the 35-year-old soldier who lived in McDuffie County but grew up in Lincolnton brought more than 500 people to the small church. Mourners filled the sanctuary, an adjacent fellowship hall and the front porch of the church.
Some of those in the sanctuary took the opportunity to say a few words about the fallen soldier.
Gregory Leverett choked back tears as he talked about his childhood friend, "Dully." He remembered playing basketball at the Kinlow home.
"He was more like a brother to me than a classmate," he said.
Sgt. Kinlow was buried with full military honors in Savannah Valley in Thomson. The soldier was awarded several medals posthumously, including the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Medal and the Bronze Star.
The Rev. Quinn asked the many soldiers, deacons and clergy in attendance to rise and wave at the various cameras in the sanctuary, an act he said is symbolic.
"This shows the world is united behind Sgt. Kinlow," he said, looking down at the flag-draped casket in front of him.
Pastor Tonita Cody said some of the toughest days might lie ahead for the family and they'll need many shoulders of support.
"This is not just a family job," she said. "This is the church's job, too."
Zoah Ministries Pastor Frankie Jones prayed for soldiers to lay their arms down and for there to be peace in the world. But he also asked God to watch over the men and women on the battlefields.
"Father, please send angels to protect them," he said, adding that he is still a member of the National Guard.
"Help us and teach us to love one another."