For Omahan Bob Allgaier, attending Sunday's tribute to fallen soldiers was both difficult and comforting.
Difficult because it brought back memories of his son, Chris, a helicopter pilot with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, who was among five soldiers killed in a 2007 crash caused by enemy fire in Afghanistan.
Comforting because he met with other people who had suffered similar losses.
"It helps with the healing," Allgaier said. "You see other families here and it helps."
Chris Allgaier is one of about 100 service members from Nebraska and western Iowa honored in the "Remembering Our Fallen" photo exhibit at the Strategic Air & Space Museum near Ashland, Neb. The exhibit salutes service members who have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. It was created by Bill and Evonne Williams, with help from The World-Herald.
A ceremony titled Heroes Among Us / Portraits of a Hero, held Sunday, featured musical performances and video tributes. The service members' relatives, including Bob Allgaier, were given red roses in remembrance of their loved ones. About 200 people attended.
"There's sadness here, definitely," said 2nd Lt. Matthew Mangan, a Washington, D.C., native stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. "These people (in the photo exhibit) were my age."
The exhibit brought tears to the eyes of Richard Elka of Burwell, Neb. He remembered his own experience fighting in the Vietnam War in 1968 and 1969. He thought about his best friend there, who didn't make it home.
He and his wife, Kathy, and daughter, Amy, looked for the photo of Staff Sgt. Kenneth Locker Jr., also of Burwell, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007.
"It's quite interesting," Kathy Elka said. You find yourself looking for somebody you might know."
The photo exhibit will be on display throughout Nebraska and western Iowa for the rest of the year, according to the museum's website.
A separate event Sunday at Lauritzen Gardens also honored service members.
Six handmade quilts created for the Quilts of Valor Foundation were given to area veterans.
Four of the six veterans attended. Mia Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Lauritzen Gardens, said the people selected to receive the quilts represented different branches of the military and different levels of service.
"These were all veterans who were picked because, in the eyes of the local Veterans Administration, they are role models," Jenkins said. "They weren't just heroes. They are examples of how soldiers should live their lives."
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