Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday to honor a fallen Marine from Marion County.
Family, friends, fellow Marines, as well as members of Rolling Thunder, the Patriot Guard, and combat veterans were among those who lined the streets leading to Mullins High School ahead of a memorial service honoring Gunnery Sgt. Ralph “E.J.” Pate Jr.
Pate died June 26 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to Second EOD Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Second Marine Logisticx Group II Marine Expeditionary force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Earlier, Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, had issued a statement saying members would be there to protest the event, however, no one from the organization showed up.
On Saturday, Pate’s body will be accompanied by an escort out of South Carolina to Arlington National Cemetery where he will be buried.