Lee Brice paid tribute to U.S. Air Force Maj. Troy Lee Gilbert at a full military honors funeral service yesterday (Dec. 19) held at Arlington National Cemetery, 10 years after his death.
Maj. Troy Gilbert was killed Nov. 27, 2006, when his F-16C Fighting Falcon crashed 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, while engaged in support of coalition ground combat operations. After the crash, the pilot’s body was taken away by Al Qaeda members and Maj. Gilbert was declared missing in action. Ten years later, Maj. Gilbert’s body was recovered, allowing him to be laid to rest.
Lee first met Maj. Troy Gilbert’s wife, Ginger, in 2015 at the Folds Honor Event and connected over Lee’s song, “I Drive Your Truck.”
“Troy sold his old beloved truck for a new one about a month before he found out he was deploying,” recalls Ginger. “Things were starting to break on his old one, and he needed a reliable ride. Just a week before he took off for Iraq, he said ‘I think we need to sell my new truck. We really can’t afford to make payments while I am gone.’ So we sold it and he left. Years later when Lee’s song came out, it wasn’t the new truck I wished we still had. It was the old one—the one that belonged to Troy’s dad first, the one Troy drove for years, the one I knew [my sons] Boston and Greyson would get a kick out of.”
Lee honored the family friend with a moving version of “Go Rest High On That Mountain” during the private chapel service held in the Old Post Chapel on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
“Singing at Troy’s funeral was a moment I’ll never forget.” Says Lee. “I’m grateful for Troy’s sacrifice and I admire Ginger and her family for their sacrifice, also. I can’t imagine what they went through and I’m honored to have been a part of this special moment with this incredibly strong family,” says Lee.
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images/Marushka Media