Small town hero honored 10 years after death

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KNOXVILLE, Illinois--The Knoxville High School baseball field is a place Caleb Lufkin once felt most at home.

"He wore number 15, he played left field. He always had this big smile," says Marcy Gorsline, Lufkin's mother.

After a memorial dedication on Saturday, Lufkin now has a permanent view of the field. An oak tree was planted in his honor along with an engraved granite memorial.

After high school the small town boy with the contagious smile joined the army. Back in May 2006, while he was serving in Baghdad, his unit ran over a bomb. Two of Lufkin's army brothers died, and Lufkin was injured. Weeks later Lufkin passed away during an operation to treat his wounds.

It's been 10 years since Lufkin's death, and hundreds of people gathered to remember.

"He was a gentle sweet kind guy who would never hurt a fly," remembers Lufkin's teammate, Rob Galloway.

"I'm sure he's probably up there laughing, enjoying it," remembers Lufkin's best childhood friend, Chad Clevenger.

And even after all these years, the community is still learning from their beloved teammate, best friend, brother, and son.

"Never give up. Caleb met everything head on with a big smile and a big heart," says Gorsline.

The tree and granite memorial will serve as a permanent reminder, one Gorsline knows her son still takes pride in.

"I know Caleb was here. I know it as a mom, he was smiling. He was so proud," says Gorsline.

He is a small town hero that will always be remembered.


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