Two decades after 9/11, one of the last US Marines killed in Afghanistan returns home

LAWRENCE, Mass., Sept.11 (Reuters) – U.S. Navy Sergeant Johanny Rosario returned to his hometown of Massachusetts on Saturday in a coffin, one of the last U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan in a war started there exactly two decades by the Attacks of 11, 2001.

Several hundred people gathered near the Farrah Funeral Home in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Rosario’s remains arrived in a black hearse with a police motorcycle escort. Marines in ceremonial uniform carried the casket into the funeral home, as veterans from the crowd, some of whom had not worn a uniform for years, came to attention.

“We came out because she’s a hero to us,” said Mary Beth Chosse, who waited several hours with her 12-year-old son, Gavin. Chosse’s eldest son is an active duty Marine. “The sacrifice and bravery of Sergeant Rosario must always be remembered. “

Rosario, 25, was among 13 US servicemen killed last month in a suicide bombing outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital. She was helping to filter evacuees at a checkpoint at the Abbey Gate of the airport when the bomb ravaged a crowd.

About 7,100 US servicemen were killed in conflicts related to the September 11 attacks, including about 2,500 in Afghanistan, according to the Costs of War project of the Watson Institute at Brown University. The financial cost of these conflicts amounts to nearly $ 6 trillion, according to the project.

Like many Americans, Sheila Arias, 41, remembers September 11, 2001 in great detail. She was in a barber shop in Lawrence when she saw New York’s World Trade Center Twin Towers collapse after Al Qaeda hijackers took control of two planes and brought them down. crashed into buildings. Hijacked planes would also crash into the Pentagon outside Washington and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Read more

Arias enlisted in the United States Army soon after, leaving a comfortable and stable job as a clerk in the Lawrence Water Department to join the military effort to uproot al Qaeda.

“There was no doubt that I had to serve,” Arias said. “I’m sure Johanny Rosario felt the same.”


Rosario, who was 5 years old at the time of the attacks, will begin his service years later, when the United States was already deeply involved in Afghanistan.

Shortly after graduating from high school in 2014, she enlisted and landed in the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Eventually, she would become chief of supply, a role typically occupied by a senior non-commissioned officer, according to the Marines, and would volunteer to be a member of the female engagement team to interact with Afghan women, hindered by the local custom of talking to male strangers. .

Just three months before her death, she received an award for her attention to detail and expertise in tracking and reconciling some $ 400,000 of outstanding procurement requests.

On Saturday, a group of his friends from Lawrence High School huddled near the steps of the funeral home. Wearing black masks, they spoke of Rosario’s desire to serve his country, attend college and financially support his family.

One of the women, who like the others declined to give her name, rocked a framed photo of Rosario in a formal dress.

“I can’t speak. I would just cry,” the woman said.

Like many residents of Lawrence, a working-class town about 30 miles (48 km) north of Boston with a strong Hispanic community, Rosario’s roots extend to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, said William Lantigua, a former mayor of the city who knows his family.

Rosario is survived by her mother and a younger sister.

On Saturday, Maria Ogando joined the gathered crowd to pay tribute to Rosario after driving an hour from Worcester, Massachusetts with her family. Her daughter, Kayla, 9, wore a T-shirt with Rosario’s full name on the back.

“She’s a heroine and it’s very sad for me to watch her die,” Kayla said. “But I will always remember her name and what she did for our country.”

Reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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