By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Nearly $1 million has been raised for the family of a Jackson Marine who was killed last month in Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was one of 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan last month as the U.S. military pulled out of the country after 20 years of fighting.
His body was brought back to Wyoming on Friday and he was given a hero’s welcome with a massive procession through downtown Jackson. No announcements have yet been made about his funeral arrangements.
McCollum’s wife is due to give birth soon to their first child.
Since his death, people from all over the country have come together to honor the Marine for giving the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country.
On Sunday, Chronicles Distilling in Cheyenne hosted a fundraiser for the McCollum family, raising more than $73,000 in the process.
Distillery co-owner Chase Lesher was a machine gunner in the Marines and served in Afghanistan, and his brother, co-owner Aaron Lesher, also served in Iraq in the Marines, which made them want to host the fundraiser.
“The news of the Marines and sailor that lost their lives during the bombing…angered us greatly,” Chase Lesher said in an announcement for the fundraiser. “Finding out that one of the Marines…was from Wyoming and had a wife with a child due within a month made it even more emotional for us.”
In addition to the fundraising effort by Chronicles, three GoFundMe pages have been launched in the wake of McCollum’s death, all raising money for McCollum’s wife and unborn child.
“Rest Easy USMC Rylee McCollum,” launched by Ryan Blair and Lalan Dewey, has raised more than $65,000.
The “Rylee McCollum Educational Trust” has raised nearly $22,000.
“An educational trust named ‘The Rylee McCollum Educational Trust’ is currently being formed with First Interstate Bank Wealth Management being named Trustee,” organizer David Cox wrote. “Rylee’s unborn child will receive 100% of all donations received.”
The largest GoFundMe page, “Rylee McCollum’s Child Education Fund,” has raised more than $667,000. Organizers Breach Supply Company said they are working directly with McCollum’s wife and will support the education and upbringing of their child.
In total, more than $827,610 has been raised for the family since McCollum was killed.