BY TARYN FITSIK
ALBANY, N.Y.--The aircraft carrying Staff Sergeant Derek Farley landed right on time Wednesday morning at Albany International Airport.
American flags billowed in the breeze, as Farley's flag draped casket was carried by members of the military.
It was a solemn few moments, as family of the 24-year-old soldier looked on.
Farley died last Tuesday in Afghanistan when a bomb he was trying to disarm went off.
In honor of Farley's ultimate sacrifice, a motorcade led by military, fire and police officials traveled from the airport through the village of Nassau, Farley's hometown.
"We're a very tight knit community, and we're all behind the Farleys," says Darlene Eagle, a family friend.
"For the past 20 years I have watched Derek and his brother grow up," adds Dorothy German, another family friend. "They're fine young men, with a fine mother and father."
Farley was just two weeks away from ending his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, and was scheduled to return home to his family.
"My heart aches for them," says Eagle. "I would not want to be in their shoes, but I'm very proud of Derek."
"We will go on to keep Derek's memory alive and his spirit alive," adds German.
Farley had already been honored for his bravery with a purple heart, after losing his hearing in one ear from a 2007 bomb explosion in Iraq.