We're fortunate to live in a nation protected by servicemen and heroes, like 21-year-old Pvt. 1st Class Cody Towse of Elk Ridge, Utah, who died earlier this month in Afghanistan while giving aid to a wounded soldier. —Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah
ELK RIDGE, Utah County — Two or three months ago, he can't remember exactly when, Jim Towse had a dream in which he said he saw his son's funeral.
From what he remembered from the dream, Towse knew he wanted his son's casket brought to their home in Elk Ridge.
"I wanted to bring him home. This is home," he said.
On May 14, the Towse family learned their son was missing. Pvt. 1st Class Cody Towse had been standing next to a bomb in Afghanistan when it detonated, killing three of the four soldiers in the area. On May 18, they found out that their son was one of those killed.
When they spoke on Mother's Day, Cody told his father he wouldn't be extending his service in the military. The war was almost over, he said.
On the flight to escort his son home, Jim Towse peered out the window as the plane containing Cody's casket flew in to the Provo airport. He wanted to see if anyone would be there to greet his son's casket. One of his son's concerns had been that Americans weren't concerned anymore about the troops in Afghanistan.
"According to Cody, their morale has just bottomed out. They don't think we care," Jim Towse said.
After landing, two yellow fire trucks shot streams of water over the plane as it rolled past. Its engines roared as it approached crowds of supporters.
It was nearly silent about noon Wednesday as Jamie Towse crossed the tarmac with her three surviving children to the casket that held the remains of her son, now Spc. Cody James Towse.
Jim Towse hugged his wife as she approached, and children Will, Callan and Christian joined in the embrace.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders held flags and stood in two straight lines extending on either side of the military airplane.
Cody's parents walked to the casket. They stood, each with one arm around the other, using their free arms to touch the flag that was draped over their son's casket.
Jaime Towse then laid her head on Cody's casket and wept, as her husband lovingly rubbed her back.
Minutes before the plane arrived, Jamie Towse beamed as she spoke about how delighted she was with the flags that lined the roads on their drive.
"It's terrific — more than I expected to drive up and see the flags. It was sweet to our hearts to see that," she said.
Friend Julie Blaney embraced her on the tarmac as they waited for the plane containing Jim Towse and Cody's casket.
Blaney said she swore a pledge that morning not to let Cody's sacrifice go unnoticed. She helped coordinate the placement of the flags along the roads and was not wanting for volunteers.
"This young man doesn't belong to them anymore. He's America's son," Blaney said.
Supporters pressed up against yellow caution tape on the tarmac at the Provo Municipal Airport and lined the roads through which the procession drove.
Former co-workers from PartyLand held a banner they created, at Jim Towse's request, over the tape that said, "Utah hero Cody Towse."
Cody's family and friends were grouped together just beyond a camouflaged military ambulance. Others in the crowd ranged from friends to complete strangers who came to support a fellow military family or to teach their children about those making sacrifices for them.
The family drove in a black SUV behind the white hearse that housed Cody's casket. Miles away near Towse home in Elk Ridge, families and members of the Patriot Guard Riders lined the cul-de-sac.
A large flag was draped vertically down the front of their home. Members of the honor guard carried the casket from the hearse into the family's living room.
Within the past week, friends and neighbors planted flowers, edged the lawn and set down cedar chips in an effort to make Cody's homecoming as beautiful as possible, according to Noah Talley, friend of Will Towse, Cody's younger brother.
"I just can't believe all the support. It really has made it a happy day, really," Jim Towse said.
On Monday, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, spoke at Camp Williams of the importance of flying flags to remember those who have gone before. Although the service at which he spoke was to honor a group of World War II veterans, he also mentioned Cody and his sacrifice.
"We're fortunate to live in a nation protected by servicemen and heroes, like 21-year-old Pvt. 1st Class Cody Towse of Elk Ridge, Utah, who died earlier this month in Afghanistan while giving aid to a wounded soldier," Matheson said.
Matheson quoted President Ronald Reagan, who said, "We don't have to turn to our history books to find heroes. They're all around us."
"On this Memorial Day, there is no doubt that Cody Towse is a hero," Matheson said.
Towse's death came shortly before President Barack Obama is expected to announce plans for troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, set to happen in the next few weeks, and just two days before he is expected to speak to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about Afghanistan and other security matters.
Funeral services for Cody Towse will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Salem Hills High School, 150 Skyhawk Blvd., Salem.
The family has set up the PFC Cody Towse Memorial Scholarship Fund. Those who want to donate can go to any Wells Fargo Bank branch, Cody's Tropical Sno Shave Ice Shack, 495 N. Main, Springville, or at any PartyLand store in Lehi, Orem, Springville and St. George.
Donations can also be made through PayPal on the Cody Towse Facebook page.