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Italian police find body of missing airman

MIDDLETOWN, Ind. (WISH) – One central Indiana community is experiencing heartbreak after it learned police found a local airman’s body.

Italian police said they found the body of missing airman, Staff Sgt. Halex Hale.

His body was found by the Livenza river.

According to the release, the body was spotted around 9:30 a.m. local time by a citizen. They immediately contacted the police.

Those are updates neighbors feared were coming after Hale went missing July 2.

“We were hoping they’d find him and his dad would get to bring him home, but not this way,” Middletown resident, Barbara Hornback said. “This is the type of things that happens on the news somewhere else, but it’s come home,” Middletown Church of the Nazarene Pastor Philip Rogers said.

He was found less than a kilometer away from the site of his disappearance.

His father and a member of the military confirmed his identity.

Over the past week, the community rallied behind the airman’s family. Yellow ribbons covered Hale’s hometown, and neighbors collected more than $10,000 to send family overseas.

“We may be a small community but we back our people whenever they need help,” Hornback said. “I’ve seen this community do this over and over again. I am not surprised at how this community has loved this family,” Rogers said.

The cause of death has not been released. Italian authorities are expected to conduct an autopsy Tuesday.

The Air Force is offering assistance as well. A spokesperson said they are taking appropriate measures to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated.

When Hale returns to Middletown, neighbors said they’ll be ready. “He’s a winner, and he will be still in our hearts,” Hornback said.