The body of a U.S. Marine killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan returned home Saturday in a solemn procession through Massachusetts on the 20th anniversary of the attacks that led to America's longest war.
Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo died in the Aug. 26 bombing near the Kabul airport where people were being evacuated amid the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. A dozen other U.S. service members and 169 Afghans were killed as people struggled to get into the airport and on flights out of the country.
Dignitaries including Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Kim Janey and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey paid their respects to her family as the body arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
In Rosario's hometown of Lawrence, people lined highway overpasses and streets waving American flags as the vehicle procession of local and state police, firefighters, and other officials made its way through the city near the New Hampshire state line.
A Marine honor guard carried the flag-draped draped casket into the Farrah Funeral Home as friends, family and other supporters huddled close just outside the doors.
Louis Cimaglia, the veterans services director in Wilmington, was among those who came out Saturday to honor Rosario. “It’s the least we can do to show respect to her family for their sacrifice," he told WHDH-TV.
Francisco Urena, a former state veterans affairs commissioner who has been assisting Rosario’s family, reflected on the significance of the fallen soldier's homecoming earlier this week.
“She’s coming home on the date, the 20th anniversary of the date, that created the war that cost her life,” he told The Boston Globe. “She could be and hopefully is the very last casualty from Afghanistan to come to Massachusetts.”
The 25-year-old served with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
She and other Marines were killed as they were helping to screen Afghans and others at the gate of the Kabul airport. They were all awarded the Purple Heart last week.
Lawrence officials recently held a vigil in Rosario's honor attended by her family. A funeral Mass will be held at Monday morning at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Church for Rosario's family and other invited guests.
On Tuesday, there will be a public wake at Veterans Memorial Stadium next to Lawrence High School, where Rosario, who was of Dominican descent, graduated. She’ll be laid to rest at Bellevue Cemetery, in a section reserved for military veterans.
This article was originally published on September 11, 2021.
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