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DENHAM SPRINGS -- Friends, family members and well-wishers came together to welcome home fallen Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad, one of four U.S. Marines who died in a helicopter crash 15 miles outside of El Centro, Calif., on April 3.

After arriving in New Orleans around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Conrad’s body was transported to Seale Funeral Home in Denham Springs in preparation for the Marine’s funeral services, which are scheduled to begin Monday, April 16.

Conrad, 24, received a hero’s welcome.

People lined both sides of Range Avenue on a wet, nasty day to pay tribute to Conrad, who one friend described as someone with “a big, big heart … who loved people.” They waved miniature American flags and held up signs that read “Thank You” and “God Bless.”

A dozen Livingston Parish Sheriff Office deputies on motorcycles led the procession after it exited Interstate 12, followed by two Louisiana State Police vehicles. A white hearse bearing Conrad’s body came next, followed by a bus with family members. The entire procession passed under a giant American flag hanging over Range Avenue.

A Marine Corps burial detail unloaded a light wood-stained casket and brought it inside the funeral home, where Conrad’s family quickly went into upon arrival.

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Fallen U.S. Marine comes home
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Fallen U.S. Marine comes home
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Fallen U.S. Marine comes home
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Fallen U.S. Marine comes home
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Fallen U.S. Marine comes home

Conrad grew up in Central and graduated from Central High School in 2012 after being a member of the football, baseball, powerlifting and wrestling teams.

He was very involved with children with special needs, volunteering at various Central Community schools in the Special Education Department before working at Charis Hills after his graduation, according to his obituary.

Conrad joined the Marine Corps in May 2016 and was a CH-53 helicopter crew chief assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465, according to a press release from the Marine Corps.

The three other Marines killed in the crash alongside Conrad were Gunnery Sgt. Derik Holley, 33, of Dayton, Ohio; Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 28, of Huntington Valley, Pa.; and 1st Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, N.C.

Funeral services for Conrad will take place at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, starting with visitation from 5-9 p.m. Monday, April 16. Visitation will continue at the church on Tuesday from 9 a.m. until a Celebration of Life Service at 11 a.m., conducted by Rev. Dale Phillips. Interment with military honors will follow in Louisiana National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Go Fund Me Legacy Fund, Lance Cpl. Taylor Conrad – Legacy Fund. Funds will be used to open a memorial playground for children with special needs.

As of Saturday, $6,449 of the $200,000 goal was donated.

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