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Body of Franklin soldier Jason Edens returns home to family

10:29 AM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
Ashley Edens says goodbye to her husband, Cpl. Jason Edens. / Cpt. Darrin Haas / Tennessee National Guard
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By Vicky Travis, The Tennessean

The body of Army Spc. Jason K. Edens of Franklin was flown home Thursday morning, to Smyrna Airport, where about 100 people, including friends, family and members of the Patriot Guard, had gathered to pay respects.

Edens, a 2007 Franklin High School graduate and aspiring Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent, was injured on April 15 during an enemy attack on his unit in Laghaman province in Afghanistan. He died April 26 at Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland.

"He was a remarkable guy," said Jan Edens, Jason's stepmother, who acted as a family spokeswoman. "He was a fun guy, loved by everyone, and so sweet. ... I can't put it all into words."

At first, the family was going to keep the arrival very private. But once their military liaison let them know people wanted to come, they decided to open it up.

"We thought, 'Hey, it's OK. He deserves it,' " she said.

Spc. Edens will be buried on Saturday at Harpeth Hills Memorial Gardens along Highway 100. In honor of Edens' love of motorcycles, some will ride on the route to Harpeth Hills. Members of the Patriot Guard, also on motorcycles, will escort the procession.

The city plans to shut down Columbia Avenue to Main Street for the funeral procession, which will travel past Franklin High School off Hillsboro Road, to Sneed Road and Highway 100 to Harpeth Hills.

Visitation will be 3-8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin. His funeral service will follow at noon.

'It's close to home'

The last two weeks have been a blur for the family.

"We got the call April 15," Jan Edens said. Six family members, including Jason's wife, Ashley, immediately flew to Germany, where Edens had been transported. There just 24 hours, the family followed Spc. Edens as he was transported to Walter Reed.

The 22-year-old was an infantryman assigned to the 1st Squadron, 13th Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in Fort Bliss, Texas.

He graduated from Franklin High School in 2007, where he played drums in the marching band.

"I'm proud of him and sad at the same time," said Kerry Vaughn, who taught him in band from Grassland Middle School through four years at Franklin High School as an assistant band director. "He always had a smile on his face."

A moment of silence was observed for Edens during the band's concert Tuesday night.

Retired Lt. Col. Greg Hoover teaches JROTC at Franklin High School. He spoke with some of his seniors after learning of Edens' death.

"There's a sense of pride," he said, adding that the young men and women who've planned on joining the military stand firm in their commitments.

"It's close to home," said Hoover, who also remembers 2004 FHS graduate Richard Buerstetta, who died in Iraq. "We've lost over 6,000 young men and women. It's just sad."

Edens and his wife would have been married three years in June, which is when he was scheduled to come home from his tour in Afghanistan.

After graduating from FHS, he attended East Tennessee State University, where he studied criminal law in hopes of becoming a TBI agent. After getting advice that the TBI was quicker to hire people with military experience, Edens enlisted in the Army in 2009.

Jan and Jim Edens have been covered with support since the call on April 15.

"I just made a few calls and the next thing I knew, the house was full of people," she said.

Then she added, "We'll see him again one day."

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