By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily; photos by Daryl Hunter
Fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum received a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Jackson on Friday afternoon, with a police-escorted funeral process through downtown.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of downtown Jackson on Friday, holding American flags to honor the recently killed Marine.
The family, motorcyclists and law enforcement officers led a procession that went from the Jackson airport to the funeral home. No plans for McCollum’s funeral have been announced yet.
Multiple police officers from across the state, including Sweetwater County, were involved in the funeral procession for the Marine.
McCollum was one of 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan last month as the United States military pulled out of the country after 20 years of fighting.
McCollum’s wife is due to give birth with their first, and only, child soon.
His mother, Kathy McCollum, recently sent a message to former President Donald Trump, saying that he should again run for president and that President Joe Biden was a “corrupt pseudo president.”
“Thank you, Kathy. America feels your loss and fully understands your pain. Rylee will never be forgotten,” Trump said in a message back to Kathy McCollum, which was posted on his website.
Kathy McCollum also called her son a sacrificial lamb and noted that Trump would never have allowed the Taliban to retake control of Afghanistan. Biden pulled out the military at the end of August after 20 years of war in the country.
“I can’t live with knowing my son’s life was taken for nothing,” Kathy McCollum said. “So Biden could repay his debt to China. They will now have full control of Afghanistan and my son will be a sacrificial lamb. My son was murdered for Biden optics. I will become more vocal soon. Grieving and not sure I can control my mouth.”
“But watched Biden disrespect my son while I was standing across from him and he was checking his watch, and then Pelosi denying my son recognition and turning her back. Just as she tore up Donald’s speech. We cannot give up our country. So even if no one gets back with me. I will always fight for the Trump administration just as my son did.”
The Marine’s father refused to meet with Biden after the soldier was killed and brought back to the United States.
“I had no desire to meet with the president,” Jim McCollum said. “Everything he’s done [with the withdrawal from Afghanistan], every step along the way has been absolutely backwards.”
“A high school kid could make better decisions than they’ve made in this,” he said.
Originally it was reported that only the late Marine’s wife had stayed in the room to meet with Biden but McCollum’s sister, Cheyenne McCollum, also stuck around briefly.
“I chose to stay with my brother’s wife,” Cheyenne said. “She wanted the chance to look him in the eye and see if it was going to be a sincere conversation or apology. And I was able to stand about 15 seconds of his fake, scripted apology and I had to walk out.”
She said Biden wouldn’t at look her or at McCollum’s wife in the eye. Instead, she said, he looked down and showed no sympathy.