LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Family, friends, and members of the community gathered at Louisville International Airport on July 15 for several hours, waiting for 19-year-old Private First Class Michael Pridham's body to be returned home.
The U.S. Army soldier was killed July 6 along with two California soldiers when the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by an insurgent IED in southern Afghanistan. Pridham, a Louisville native, graduated from basic training at Fort Knox and was assigned to the First Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment stationed in Germany. It was his first duty assignment.
Pridham's brother and father were onboard the flight carrying the soldier's body to Louisville from Atlanta, while the rest of the soldier's family waited at Louisville International for his arrival.
In a statement released last week, Pridham's father said, "Mikey was more of a man at 19-year-old because of the Army than most men I know. He died doing something he believed in and did not die in vain."
Members of the Patriot Riders of Kentucky, bikers with Heart of Fire City Church, and other organizations, including the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the 1/16 Calvary Regiment from Fort Knox escorted Pridham's body to Owen Funeral Home on Dixie Highway.
"His life was not in vain. He died for us. He died for you and he died for me," said Bishop Dan Johnson of Heart of Fire City Church.
"There is so much gratitude that this young man showed to the United States," said Deputy Dexter Pearson of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. "He put himself on the line, chose to wear the uniform with pride."
Pearson served overseas for seven months and said he was proud to escort Pridham's body to the funeral home.
"To his family, I pray for you. We love you and your son will always be remembered with honor and integrity," Pearson said.
"He is one of our sons. He is America's son," Bishop Johnson said.
At the time of his death, Pridham was about six weeks from coming home. His wife, Diedre, is expecting their first child. During a previous interview, Diedre told us she will tell her daughter how much her father loved video games, that he had lots of friends, was a Cards fan, and died a hero.
Visitation for PFC Pridham will be held Friday, July 16 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, July 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Owen Funeral Home, 5317 Dixie Highway. Funeral services will be held at Owen Funeral Home beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 17. Burial will be at Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Brandenburg, KY.