Lee Brice Joins Air Force Hero’s Family at Funeral

He and Jerrod Niemann Perform at Arlington National Cemetery

It took a decade to bring U.S. Air Force Maj. Troy Gilbert to his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery, and Lee Brice and Jerrod Niemann were there when he finally came home.

Gilbert was killed outside of Baghdad on Nov. 27, 2006, when his F-16C Fighting Falcon jet crashed as he attacked al Quaeda-linked trucks threatening U.S. soldiers. After the crash, Iraqi militants took his body.

His funeral service on Monday (Dec. 19) included a special performance from Brice and Niemann when they sang the Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton duet “When I Get Where I’m Going.” Brice also sang “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” the song Vince Gill started writing in 1989 after fellow singer Keith Whitley died.

Gilbert’s whole family — including his widow Ginger Gilbert Ravella and his five children, now ages 10 to 19 — was there for the special private service.

This isn’t the first time Brice has found a way to honor Gilbert. In April, at the Academy of Country Music’s Party for a Cause Festival in Las Vegas, he gave Ravella the surprise of a lifetime after tracking down her late husband’s 1992 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup and giving it back to her.

Ravella posted on social media after that grand gesture from Brice, saying she’d connected with his “I Drive Your Truck” song right away.

“Troy traded in his old beloved truck for a new one about a month before he found out he was deploying,” she wrote. “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. After he was killed, I was most certainly grateful Troy took another big thing off my plate after he was gone. Paying for that truck, trying to figure out what to do with it, etc. 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.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.