Solar eclipse not biggest story in this small Missouri town

Kingdom City is a small Missouri town — not more than a truck stop, really — just off Interstate 70.  Today, it lies almost directly in the path of the total solar eclipse. But that isn’t the big story in Kingdom City and nearby Fulton this weekend.

The big story is the processional along U.S. 54, the road that crosses I-70 at Kingdom City, held for Marine Sergeant Talon R, Leach, who was from Fulton, and who died in a helicopter crash on July 10th in Mississippi, along with 14 other marines and a sailor.

“Sure, I knew him. We went to high school together,” said a woman standing along the highway in front of Gasper’s Truck Plaza just south of I-70’s Exit 148. We were waiting for the procession of police cars, fire trucks, and motor cycles — dozens of motorcycles — that would honor him.

Leach was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, but it seemed as if  everybody in the area was lining U.S. 54 for his memorial procession. There were hundreds of people. And it seemed that everyone had known him.

“He was a nice kid, a real gentleman;  you gotta feel bad for his wife,” said a guy standing beneath an American flag that he’d hoisted to the top of a crane on the back of a flatbed truck.

A death and its aftermath is not the kind of story you hear every day. But as I suspected when I started Interstate Bob’s Ultimate Road Trip, there is some kind of story along the Interstate every day, at ever exit, with everyone you talk to.

Now, it’s time to see this eclipse.

Total Interstate Miles: 46,867

Miles traveled yesterday: 313

Miles traveled so far: 15,083

Miles left to go: 31,784




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