The Pentagon said that Sgt. 1st Class Michael A. Cathcart died of wounds received from small arms fire in Kunduz Province on Nov. 14. Cathcart was based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
A giant flag flew near Washington Elementary School, and dozens of smaller flags were planted next to sidewalks along the route.
"It's very sad, but we have a special community who supports their soldiers," said Joann Davis, who took a bus to stand outside the church. "Just look down this street. It's absolutely beautiful."
Gov. Rick Snyder ordered U.S. flags in Michigan lowered Wednesday in Cathcart's honor. Cathcart was a Bay City Central High School graduate and enlisted in the Army in 2001. He served in combat in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that supports active and retired service members, surrounded the church building holding U.S. flags.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, who attended the service, described Cathcart as "a peacemaker."
"What I found most moving were that members of his unit were there — these are guys that are taking the same risk as Michael did to protect our country," Kildee said. "This soldier paid the ultimate sacrifice."