Local family welcomes home fallen soldier one last time

Spec. Adrian Perkins was shot to death in Jordan

EL CAJON, Calif. - Family members gathered Friday as the body of a local soldier killed while serving in Jordan returned home.

Hugs comforted distraught family members as they waited at Gillespie Field for the jet carrying 19-year-old Army Spc. Adrian Perkins to arrive.

Members of the Patriot Guard held American flags as the fallen hero was escorted onto the field.

"This is the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life," said Fred Ashby, Perkins' grandfather.

Ashby served in Vietnam and said his grandson wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Perkins was overseas in Jordan serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and military officials would only say he died May 17 from a non-combat related shooting on a military base.

Ashby said the family doesn't know the circumstances surrounding his death and the specifics aren't that important to them.

"I don't really care how he died; he was still my hero. I don't care what happened and what they find out, it's immaterial to me," Ashby said.

Relatives walked somberly out onto the tarmac to visit with Perkins one last time. His mother wept as she leaned over his flag-draped casket to grieve for her son.

Ashby said his grandson was well-liked and loved life and wanted to work for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department after his military career.

"He was going to be a deputy and be a dog handler, that's what he had dreams of being," Ashby said.

Ashby showed 10News the dog tags around his neck that read "Pa's hero." They serve as a reminder that his grandson is always with him.

"He was always making jokes; he'll be missed," said Ashby.

Perkins received a number of awards, including the Army Achievement Medal.

The military is investigating his death.

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