WINNSBORO, LA (FOX) — In Winnsboro, the flag flies at half-staff, and the hearts and minds of the Ark-La-Miss stop to remember a home-grown soldier.
That soldier was Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Henderson, killed on Monday in a Blackhawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
It was early that morning when his cousin Al Bryan got the call that no military family ever wants to hear.
"When they called me and told me, it was a reaction of shock, I guess. ‘Am I dreaming or is this really happening?’ You don't expect it to be your family," stated Bryan.
For now, all of Henderson’s family has left of him are burning questions as to why it happened.
"We won't see him again, and you just wonder and you're asking questions like ‘Why? How did this happen? Why did it happen?’ I think there had been some equipment malfunctions and weather."
By all accounts, Henderson was a home-grown boy. He grew up just ten miles away from Winnsboro in Fort Necessity, in the hustle and bustle of a boy's life out in the country.
"It's a bunch of stuff, from little kids playing Robin Hood to walking the cornfields, irrigating in the hot summer, mad because it was so hot - just so much stuff there."
He graduated from ULM studying aviation and had been serving with the army for seven years.
He was just about to reach the rank of major, but his family back home remembers him as the kid that everybody liked.
"He wasn't a stranger to anybody. Anytime he saw somebody, he’d shake your hand, say 'How are you doing,' hug your neck - you know, that kind of person."
Henderson leaves behind a wife and a stepchild.
His immediate family is flying up to Delaware for his body's return to the country he served, ready to bring this home-grown soldier back, laying him to rest in Fort Necessity.
"If you’ve got a loved one out there - if they're overseas, if they're not overseas - whatever they do, just give them a hug and tell them you love them, because you never know when the last time it will be that you'll talk to them."
Family members say funeral arrangements haven't been made just yet.
They said Henderson loved being a military pilot, and it's the thought they're holding onto: that he died loving what he did and defending the people he loved back home.
He was 27 years old.