Thousands of Nebraskans came together to welcome home fallen Marine Cpl. Daegan W. Page on Sept. 10. The flight that brought Page back to Omaha was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 p.m., but people lined the streets for his homecoming hours before.
Page, 23, was one of the 13 U.S. troops killed in the suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26.
The Omaha Police Department escorted Page and his family from the airport to Braman’s Mortuary on 144th & Harrison Street.
A fleet of cars drove down Abbott Drive and Locust around 1:50 p.m. A black hearse carrying Page’s remains in a flag-draped coffin led the procession. The Page family followed closely behind. A silent crowd waved the American flags in their hands and watched as the cars passed them by.
At the request of Page’s family, more than 500 Patriot Guard Riders from across Nebraska and Iowa followed behind the motorcade.
“I feel like he not only defended the U.S. flag but the Afghan flag as well,” Shafiq Jahish said while carrying an Afghan flag in his arm.
He stood on Abbott Drive with his two other friends, Sharafat Ray and Mohammed Sahil, to show support for Page’s family. As Special Immigration Visa holders from Afghanistan, they all served as Afghan interpreters for the U.S. military in Afghanistan in the late 2000s and moved to Omaha with their immediate family in 2014.
“We are here today to show our appreciation and respect to him not just for what he had done for the United States but for Afghanistan as well,” Jahish said.
For four years, Page served as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton, California.
The Miguel Keith Detachment #609 of the Marine Corps League was one of the many military organizations that showed up to honor Page. The detachment is a non-profit organization that serves to “uphold the spirit of the Marine Corps” through various events.
Norm Jelken, a member of the chapter, said he had mixed feelings when he heard the news about a fellow Marine.
“I hate to see a life lost,” Jelken said. “But when you sign up for the Marine Corps, you sign up for that risk.”
Jelken, who now works as a pastor, served in the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines (2/11) during the Vietnam War. He was deployed in 1970 to help the South Vietnamese armies as the U.S. troops began their withdrawal.
The veteran said that most citizens don’t understand there’s got to be somebody like Page who’s willing to “stand up” for the country.
“Patriotism starts here,” Jelken said as he patted his chest where his heart is.
Born in Omaha, Page spent the first five years of his life in Red Oak, Iowa. Then, he moved back to Omaha, where he attended Millard Public Schools. He graduated from Millard South High School in 2016.
He was known for his love for animals, especially dogs. His three dogs are Shyia, Gracie and Finn. The Marine played hockey for Omaha Westside in high school and was a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks.
A few days after his death was confirmed, Page’s family set up a Facebook page and website to honor him. People are encouraged to leave a message of support and monetary donations, which can be made through Venmo, mail or in-person at the Omaha Police Federal Credit Union.
In an Instagram post, Page’s girlfriend, Jessica Ellison, said the family intends to give all the donated funds to charities and nonprofit organizations that were “close to Deagan’s heart.”
A few hours following the event, Page’s family released a statement on their Facebook page thanking everyone who showed up to pay their respects to Page.
“Our hearts are still broken, but we are the lucky few who know what it is like to receive a hug from the city of Omaha,” the statement reads.
The family said in the written statement that the Marine’s homecoming was truly a hero’s welcome.
Page’s family received requests from those who wished to pay their respects to Daegan in person. A public visitation will be held on Thursday, Sept. 16, at St. Paul Lutheran Church on Millard Ave., Omaha, from 5 to 8 p.m.
The funeral is planned for the next day at the same location. Following that is the burial at the Omaha National Cemetery on Schram Road.