Hundreds of people attended a candle light vigil at Fort Ontario in Oswego Friday night for Army SPC Kyle Rookey.
The Department of Defense said soldier Kyle Rookey died Sunday in Jalalabad. He died in a non-combat related incident, but officials gave no further details.
Inside the fort Friday night, friends shared stories, laughter and tears as they remembered Rookey's life.
He graduated from Oswego High School in 2007, and was active with the marching band, chorus and theater departments.
Rookey's family said seeing the crowd of people gave them strength for the difficult days and weeks they know are ahead.
"Just overwhelming," said Kyle's father, George Rookey. "Everything is so overwhelming. Just the outpouring of people."
"This gives them an idea, a small idea, of how many people loved their brother," said Rookey's mother, Carol Sue Acres.
In one of the vigil's most touching moments, the crowd gathered to sing "God Bless America."
Flags on New York State government buildings are flying at half-staff to honor Kyle Rookey.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the flag order on Tuesday. From Friday through Sunday, flags will also be at half staff locally at Oswego City Hall, Oswego County buildings, and local VFW halls.
Rookey had been assigned to the Fourth Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Fourth Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)