Friends, family, strangers honor the life of fallen Pinckneyville soldier

Friends, family, strangers honor the life of a fallen Heartland hero

PINCKNEYVILLE, IL (KFVS) - A southern Illinois soldier’s body returned home on Monday, March 18.

Sgt. Holli Bolinski’s body arrived in Pinckneyville around 4 p.m.

Flags lined Route 127 for miles and people gathered along the route to pay their respects in her hometown of Pinckneyville, some with hands over their hearts and some in tears.

RAW VIDEO: Sgt. Holli Bolinski's body arrives in Pinckneyville

We talked to an Iraq War veteran who served in Kuwait and went to school with Sgt. Bolinski. He said it’s important to show support to veterans who come home and the families of the fallen.

“Great show from our community,” Dustin Patterson said. “Bringing one of our community heroes home, or fallen soldiers, our community has always been known for being very supportive of the military and welcome home our veterans, our heroes that have fallen and the ones that come home like I did.”

He said this hit close to home for him because he knew Sgt. Bolinski personally and even coached her boys in football.

We also talked to a combat veteran who is a part of the same combat veteran motorcycle association as Sgt. Bolinski’s brother.

“Don’t let any veteran go to their final resting alone,” Dave Hess said. “We were lucky enough to come home, unfortunately, she was not. So, it’s behooven on every combat veteran to pay homage and to pay tribute to a fallen comrade.”

Hess’ motorcycle group traveled miles from Mt. Vernon to the Air Force base and then to Pinckneyville.

He said too many soldiers do not get the proper burial they deserve. If notified, he said his organization will make sure no soldier is forgotten.

One of Sgt. Bolinski’s best friends, Kayla Arndt told us we could all learn from Holli.

“She was a very big hearted person,” she said, “she had a lot of compassion for people, and I really hope that everyone can take away the value of compassion these days. She was willing to give everything - even her life - just to keep us safe."

Even people who didn’t know Sgt. Bolinski did things to support her. Like Girl Scout Troop 8131, who sent Bolinski’s unit in Kuwait homemade cookies after they heard the news.

Sgt. Bolinski’s body arrived at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis at 2 p.m. Her family, friends, members of the military and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker were at the Air Force base.

Sgt. Holli Bolinski's body arrived at Scott Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. (Source: KFVS)
Sgt. Holli Bolinski's body arrived at Scott Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. (Source: KFVS) ((Source: KFVS))

Gov. Pritzker ordered all flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise on Tuesday, March 19 until sunset on Thursday, March 21 in honor of Sgt. Bolinski.

The funeral arrangements were finalized on Friday.

Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20 and from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 21 at St. Bruno Catholic Church in Pinckneyville. Services will be held at the church on Thursday at 10 a.m. You can click here for more information.

Sgt. Holli Bolinski died after a vehicle crash while serving in Kuwait. (Source: 420th Movement Control Battalion/Facebook)
Sgt. Holli Bolinski died after a vehicle crash while serving in Kuwait. (Source: 420th Movement Control Battalion/Facebook)

More than 1,500 flags were put up as part of the Hope for Heroes program.

Bolinski, 37, died in a vehicle crash while on a mission in North Kuwait.

Another soldier was killed and a third was injured.

Copyright 2019 KFVS. All rights reserved.