Prattville residents remember fallen soldier

Video on a projection screen shows the return of Hensley's remains.
Video on a projection screen shows the return of Hensley's remains.
Folks hug and remember a fallen soldier from Prattville.
Folks hug and remember a fallen soldier from Prattville.

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Video of Specialist Nick Hensley's funeral played over the projection screens at The Church of Living Water in Prattville as hundreds of family members and friends said goodbye to a hometown hero.

"It's kinda sad because it's over," says Hensley's mother, Joan.

Hensley lost both his legs and a hand when he stepped on an explosive device in Afghanistan.

Days after the accident--while in a hospital in Germany--he lost his life.

For Joan, the last few weeks have been "a whirlwind. An absolute whirlwind. Can't keep the days straight, can't keep the hours straight."

After standing by Nick's bedside as he died in Germany, to traveling to Texas for his funeral, she says being home in Prattville is helping her cope.

"We have been surrounded by such wonderful people. Sympathy cards, prayers, people coming over, people praying."

High school friends, family friends, even city leaders and state legislators paid their respects--many of them reminiscing about how special Nick was.

"He was a very fun, lighthearted guy," says longtime friend Greg Lauderdale.

"He kinda beat to his own drum," says friend, Michelle Burns.

Lauderdale shared how shocked he was when he heard Hensley died.

"It's still not real. It's going to take a long time to let it sink in."

While Hensley's pictures and accolades cover the church, it's the memories his loved ones cherish--all the while believing he's looking down on them with one message.

"He'd probably just tell us to make sure we keep our lives right and trust in Jesus. That's what he'd tell us knowing where he is right now," says Lauderdale.

Hensley's mother says Nick was a professional soldier--modeling his military service after that of his father who was in the United States Air Force. Friends and family members say he died doing what he loved.

State Senator Bryan Taylor, State Representative Paul Beckman and Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie presented the Hensley family with an Alabama state flag and a state resolution honoring Specialist Hensley.

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