Family members of US Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo is moved as The Casket with Pichardo arrives at Logan Airport on Saturday September 11, 2021 (Jonathan Wiggs, The Boston Globe / AP)
LAWRENCE, Mass. – The body of a US 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 the longest war in the States- United.
Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo died in the August 26 bombing near Kabul airport, where people were evacuated amid the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. A dozen other US servicemen and 169 Afghans were killed as people struggled to enter the airport and on flights out of the country.
Dignitaries including Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Kim Janey and US Senator Edward Markey paid tribute to his family as the body arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
In Rosario Pichardo’s hometown of Lawrence, people lined highway overpasses and streets waving American flags as the motorcade passed through town near the New Hampshire state border.
A Navy honor guard carried the flag-draped casket to the Farrah Funeral Home as police, firefighters and others rose and saluted.
Military personnel and others salute as Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo returns to Logan Airport in Boston on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (Jonathan Wiggs, The Boston Globe / AP)
The hearse carrying the remains of US Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo passes a line of bikers as she passes through his hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts on Saturday, September 11, 2021 (Winslow Townson / AP)
Residents watch the funeral procession of Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, a US Navy who was among 13 servicemen killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, in Lawrence, Mass, on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP)
Political representatives from Massachusetts are in attendance as US Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo arrives at Logan Airport on Saturday, September 11, 2021 in Boston. (Jonathan Wiggs, The Boston Globe / AP)
The coffin of Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, a U.S. Marine who was among 13 servicemen killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, is transported to Farrah’s funeral home in his hometown of Lawrence, Mass, on Saturday, September 11, 2021. (Robert F. Bukaty / PA )
“We will never forget his name,” said Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez. “We are proud to have him at home.”
Francisco Urena, a former state commissioner of veterans affairs who assisted Rosario’s family, said the importance of the fallen soldier’s return home on the anniversary of the attack that started the war which ultimately cost him his life is not lost on his family.
“You have to understand that Johanny was five years old, a kindergarten 20 years ago. She lived in a country at war,” he said. “She volunteered to serve our country and volunteered to participate in this mission.”
Saturday represents the real start of the family’s mourning, as many have recently arrived from Rosario Pichardo’s native Dominican Republic and elsewhere, Urena said.
“It has been a long time to come for this family. It has been very difficult days, sleepless nights,” he said. “But the town of Lawrence has come together to make sure this young Navy sergeant and his family are not alone during this time.”
The 25-year-old served in the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51 / 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. She and other Marines were killed as they helped filter Afghans and others at the gate of Kabul airport. They all received the Purple Heart last week.
A funeral mass will be held Monday morning at the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption for the family of Rosario Pichardo and other guests.
On Tuesday there will be a public vigil at the Veterans Memorial Stadium next to Lawrence High School, where Rosario Pichardo graduated. She will rest in the Bellevue cemetery in a section reserved for military veterans.