Video: Dundee's hero comes home

Gwen Chamberlain
People lined the Main Street in Dundee, N.Y. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 to honor Christopher J. Scott, whose body was escorted home from Elmira-Corning Regional Airport by hundreds of Patriot Guard Riders, Army representatives, law enforcement and emergency services. Scott was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 3.

As a Dundee Scotsman football player, Christopher Scott was accustomed to being “piped” with his teammates into a football stadium for a big game.

On Sept. 10, his teammates stood in muted reverence and the bagpipes moaned Amazing Grace just for him.

Then, the village of Dundee fell silent as Patriot Guard Riders were ordered to attention.

Soldiers slowly and deliberately removed a casket from the back of a hearse and with precision and dignity carried it into the Baird Funeral Home in Dundee.

Specialist Christopher J. Scott had come home, and although none of those lining Main Street in Dundee had been on hand the day he left for Afghanistan a couple of months ago, they were here Saturday to honor him upon his return.

On Sept. 3, Scott, 21, of Tyrone, died of gunshot wounds received from enemy small arms fire while conducting a partnered dismounted patrol with the Afghan Uniform Police in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

His body was flown to Dover Air Base in Delaware on Sept. 4, and brought to Dundee on Sept. 10. His body was flown to Elmira-Corning Regional Airport, where it was met by family, friends, hundreds of members of the Patriot Guard Riders, veterans groups, emergency services and law enforcement personnel.

While the procession was making its way along the highways between Horseheads and Dundee, the people lining the streets of Dundee were celebrating the community’s Scottish heritage with a parade opening the second annual Scottish Festival. The festival, planned since last year’s inaugural event, was quickly re-organized to be dedicated to Scott after news of his death reached Dundee. Soon after that parade, the procession escorting Scott’s body approached the village, and the mood that had been celebratory turned somber.

Dundee Fire Chief Ray Miller, who drove one of the escort trucks from the airport,  said the entire route the procession followed was graced by signs of respect for Scott’s sacrifice. In communities where he wasn’t known, people turned out to show their respect to Scott. From the National Guard in Horseheads gathering near the intersection of Hickory Grove and State Route 14 to the New York State Fire Academy in Montour Falls, where firefighters stood in honor, and through Watkins Glen, where a giant U.S. Flag hung from the fire department’s ladder truck, and on toward Dundee, the procession traveled. Miller said people of all ages lined the way, and watched as the procession passed.

Tim Yetter, of Penn Yan, a captain of the Patriot Guard, told a reporter at the airport before giving riders the orders to lead the way, “They all said he was a heck of a good kid, and was liked by all.”

When the hearse arrived at the funeral home, Patriot Guard Riders quickly formed a protective wall with U.S. flags as a group of soldiers marched down Stoll Street to carry the casket into the funeral home. For several minutes a blanket of sorrow hung over the crowd that stretched through the village.

The silence of the crowd was a tribute to the silencing of a young man who was just beginning to realize his dream of serving as an MP and marrying the love of his life.

Scott was a Military Policeman assigned to the 561st Military Police Company, 716th Military Police Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade. He entered the Army in July 2009 and arrived at Fort Campbell in May 2010. He left Dundee in June to serve in Afghanistan.

Scott is the son of Ken and Tammy Scott, and a 2009 graduate of Dundee Central School.  He had planned to return to Fort Campbell, Ky. within days to marry his fiancée, Tory Oden.

He is also survived by his brothers Michael, who is also in the Army and Daniel, at home.

His funeral is today, Sept. 14, four days before his planned wedding day.