(Licking, MO) -- Despite pouring rain hundreds of people lined the streets to show their support today for army Staff Sergeant Tyler Smith.
24-Year-Old Army Staff Sergeant Tyler Smith died on April 3 when the Department of Defense says he was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
The community was in shock and hundreds of people showed up outside the Pentecostal Holiness Church this morning where Smith's funeral was held.
Family, friends, and many members of the community showed up to honor him.
The Patriot Guard Riders came to make sure uninvited guests we're kept away so Smith could be given the respect he deserves. Residents of the Licking community were shaken and in tears when they heard the news of Staff Sergeant Tyler Smith.
Tammy Voellinger said the entire community felt "Devastation. Just like the rest of the community because it's a small community, close knit, just devastation -- hits close to home."
Voellinger remembers Tyler even at a young age she said "Tyler and his family, we started going to church together and I did a lot of organized plays, bonfires, you know a lot of youth stuff and we a did a lot of things together as a family, I have two daughters and they were all about the same age."
She says Tyler was well known in the community and loved by many "Funny, great kid, loved the Lord, very responsible, always respectable and always wanted to be in the military."
While most guests were there to honor Staff Sergeant Smith, others were there for more than one reason.
Patriot Guard Rider Jerry England said "We're here to shield his family from any uninvited guests who might happen to show up."
He says the Patriot Guard riders are there to protect the family from the protestors who travel around the country and show up uninvited to military funerals.
Jerry England says "It's demeaning to the soldier that gave his life the ultimate sacrifice and it also causes pain for the family so we will put a shield of American flags and members between the family and the protestors."
Voellinger says it's amazing to be part of such a supportive community and wishes others would follow suit.
Tammy Voellinger said "It makes me so proud and i'm glad that tyler brought this community together like this and i wish that the whole country would come together like this."
Both Voellinger and England agree that Smith is a hero and will be missed.
Jerry England said "It's an honor to be here and Staff Sergeant Smith made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and he needs to be honored and given the respect due him."
Voellinger says the huge turnout for Tyler over the last two days sends a very personal message.
Tammy Voellinger said the number of community members turning out to honor this fallen solider sends a powerful message to the soldier and his family "Your life was not in vain, we'll love you, we'll miss you, but your life was not in vain."
Since joining the Army in 2006 Staff Sergeant Smith had won several awards.
His wife Lara and their two children, Wyatt and Carson survive him.