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Flags lined the streets of Orem on Jan. 24, 2010, as the body of Lance Corporal Matthew Adams received a dignified transfer from California where he died in crash.
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Crowd In Orem Greets Procession For Deceased Marine

OREM, Utah — The temperatures were chilly and the air was damp, but that didn’t deter a small crowd from standing outside Friday night and patiently waiting for their moment to pay solemn tribute to a Marine killed in California.

Several volunteers from the organization Follow the Flag first gathered after 5:30 p.m. outside Mountain View High School and later Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary, 495 S. State St., to plant flags in honor of Lance Corporal Matthew Ryan Adams ahead of the arrival of his procession.

Adams was killed on Jan. 14 near Carlsbad, Calif., in a crash with a wrong-way driver.

His body arrived at Salt Lake City International Airport Friday for a dignified transfer.

Jordan Fairbanks said the Follow the Flag group wanted to make sure Adams’ family felt support from the community following his untimely death.

“He didn’t ask for this, but it’s something that he wanted to do and it speaks very highly of him,” Fairbanks said. “He’s a hero to me.”

James Hammon said he joined the group after his son, Chief Petty Officer Jared Reaves, passed away from leukemia while on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard.

“I flew home from Chicago, I had my whole front yard full of flags and an eight-foot giant ribbon and they’ve been my family ever since,” Hammon said. “They’re an amazing group of people.”

Adams’ story immediately resonated with Hammon.

“Broken-hearted — it was a tragic death for a young man that never should have happened,” Hammon said.

He hoped his and others’ presence Friday night would help to bring comfort to the grieving family.

“What I got from it when it was my time to be there was that you’re not alone,” Hammon said. “There’s millions of people that love him and support him, and you find a lot of strength when you see how many people truly support you.”

The procession that included a Utah Highway Patrol escort arrived at the mortuary after 9:30 p.m. Friday.

Volunteers and friends, some bearing flags themselves, stood in reverent silence as the hearse drove into the parking lot.

“Matt’s been one of my friends since seventh grade,” said Caelan White. “I came out here to do something special for him.”

Fairbanks said he and others hoped Adams’ family members know they are loved and appreciated.

“This is just a small thing that we can do and it’s not a big deal for us but it’s a huge deal for them,” Fairbanks said.