KILLEEN (June 28, 2013) -- There was no celebration for Spc. Ember Alt's birthday. She would have turned 22.
Army Spc. Ember M. Alt (U.S. Army photo)
Instead there were tears and hugs shared by family and friends as this brave warrior's remains touched down at Robert Army Gray Airfield in Killeen.
On June 18, Ember Alt was killed in Afghanistan when two enemy rockets hit her camp.
"I couldn't sleep very well that night and when I looked at my phone, I had received several calls and text messages," said Imani Dunn, Ember's best friend.
After taking her phone off silent, Imani called one of her friends. "My friend said, 'are you sitting down?'" said Imani.
"After I took a seat, she told me 'Ember is dead.' I couldn't really breath. Then she said it again. 'Ember is dead.' I busted out crying."
The last time Imani saw Ember was when she came to her basketball game in Colorado. Ember was stationed at Fort Carson.
The two of them and Zsuzsa Mae Deloso were best friends while attending Killeen High School. "They called us the three musketeers," said Imani.
The three friends ran track together.
Ember was talented in music and very artistic, according to Imani. She attended Central Texas College after high school and was thinking studying art.
When she approached Imani about going into the Army, she was concerned at first, but then realized it was a perfect fit for Ember. She entered the service in 2011.
"Two days before she left (deployed to Afghanistan), I saw her and we were talking," said Imani.
"I was saying to her that I knew she was excited about going, but to be safe and careful out there."
Imani said she was in shock when she found out her best friend had died.
"They (Ember's family) actually started to plan a coming home party, slash, late birthday for her when she got back," said Imani.
"She's my best friend and it's just so surreal to be burying your best friend, especially at a young age."
After Amy soldiers ceremoniously placed Ember's casket in the hearse, it began the journey to the Crawford Bowers Funeral Home.
Waiting to lead the procession were the Centex Patriot Guard Riders.
"I have two daughters, ages 35 and 32," said Ron Smith, senior ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders.
"She's a lot younger then that and she's not going to get a chance to better her life.
She gave her life so that we can continue to do the things we do and to me, that makes her a hero."
The Patriot Guard Riders have escorted as many as 16 processions in a week.
"There are certain times of the year where we pretty much get overwhelmed," said Smith.
"We have had up to six rides in one day." Over 40 motorcycles provided transport from the airfield to the funeral home.
On Saturday, they will then escort Ember to her final resting place at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
Imani says she will miss her friend, but feels she died honorably. "I am so very proud of her for going out there and serving our country.
Not a lot of people can say that their best friend died for them."