Fallen Lawrence Marine awarded Purple Heart, laid to rest

·2 min read

Sep. 15—LAWRENCE — Some walked into Veterans Memorial Stadium. A group of Marines in dress blues arrived by bus after flying from the Middle East. And hundreds rolled into the city on motorcycles, later lining the Central Bridge and Manchester Street.

Thousands paid their final respects Tuesday to Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, of Lawrence, who was killed by suicide bombers in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26.

A 2014 graduate of Lawrence High School, Rosario, who is also referred to as Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, served in the Marines for eight years.

The Dominican-American volunteered for what would be her last mission in Afghanistan, screening women and children leaving the country, which was back under Taliban control after 20 years of U.S. military involvement.

Rosario served with the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. She and other Marines were killed as they screened Afghans and others at the gate of the Kabul airport.

A private funeral Mass was held for Rosario on Monday at St. Mary of the Assumption Church.

On Tuesday, the public was invited to pay their respects to Rosario at Veterans Memorial Stadium off Route 114, followed by her burial later that afternoon in the veterans section of Bellevue Cemetery.

Hundreds of bikers, many belonging to groups supporting American military and veterans groups, lined the Central Bridge and Manchester Street as Rosario's casket was driven by hearse to Bellevue Cemetery.

At the cemetery, her casket was transferred to horse and caisson, and then carried by Marine pallbearers. Other Marines conducted a three-volley salute followed by a Marine bugler playing taps.

White doves were released into the air and a baby cried. The American flag draped atop Rosario's casket was folded and handed to her weeping mother.

Gov. Charlie Baker called the sergeant a "hero" and said he was moved by the stories about her life and her desire from an early age to help other people.

"It is so clear that this was a special person who lived her whole life in the service of others, and got joy from those opportunities to make things better," Baker said Monday afternoon after attending the private funeral Mass with Rosario's family.

"She would have gone on to lead a special life," the governor said.

In honor of Rosario, Baker has ordered that the U.S. and Massachusetts flags be lowered to half staff at all state buildings from sunrise until sunset Wednesday.

Rosario and the 12 other service members killed were all posthumously honored with the Purple Heart, a military decoration for those wounded or killed in action.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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