As Family Mourns Marine Sgt. Killed in Afghanistan, Lawrence to Hold Vigil

A vigil honoring Sgt. Johanny Rosario's life will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Mayor Kendrys Vasquez announced

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The devastated family of Sgt. Johanny Rosario, one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing outside Kabul's airport last week, is preparing to welcome the Marine's remains home to Lawrence, Massachusetts.

"She's going to be home soon," said her brother, Erick Rosario.

He said Johanny was the oldest of four in their tight-knit Dominican family, and her death in Thursday's explosion leaves behind a sister, two brothers and her heartbroken parents. She was 25.

"My sister, she lost her life for the United States and ... my mom's just been receiving nothing but bad news, you know, left and right, and it's not right," Erick Rosario said.

The 25-year-old soldier from Lawrence, Massachusetts, killed in an explosion at the Kabul airport amid the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan was remembered as a "treasure" by her community, which is rallying to support her family.

Capt. Austin Keeley, Rosario's officer in charge before she deployed to the Middle East, said Rosario was fiercely proud of her heritage as a Dominican-American.

"She wanted to set a good example for her siblings and niece and show that hard work would lead to success....Rosie was so good that we never doubted her," Keeley wrote on his personal social media pages. "She received not one, but two medals during the 15-months we worked together for her exceptional performance.”

Jaime Melendez called the news of Rosario's death personally devastating. In his decade serving as the director of Lawrence Veterans Services, he said, he's worked with hundreds of Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or JROTC, members, but Rosario was special.

"There's always some that stick out, you know, they just– they have a light about them, if you will. She was definitely one of those," Melendez said.

Lawrence native Johanny Rosario was among those killed in suicide bombings in Kabul.

Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez met with Rosario's family Monday evening at their home.

“It has been decided they wish to move forward with hosting a vigil," Vasquez said. "They are inviting the community to attend to pay honor and respect.”

The vigil honoring Rosario's life will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The mayor says they are still working on details for the funeral and a procession.

A 2014 graduate of Lawrence High School, Rosario spent a semester at Bridgewater State University before enlisting as a full-time U.S. Marine.

"Though she was only on our campus for a short period of time, she's still one of us and she'll be considered a Bear for life," said Brian Duchaney, program lead at the Office of Military and Veteran Students Services at Bridgewater State University.

Fellow veterans stopped by the family's home in Lawrence Monday to pay their respects.

"The community is very affected, very affected," said Jackei Marmol. "We have all come together, we are all in grief."

On Thursday, after suicide bombings outside the Kabul airport killed 12 U.S. service members and a number of Afghans, President Joe Biden expressed support for family members and spoke directly to those who carried out the attack.

President Joe Biden has called the fallen military members heroes who represent the best of America.

Rosario was assigned to the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade and was helping to process the crowd flocking to Kabul's international airport amid the frantic evacuation of the U.S. and its allies when the suicide bombing took place -- also killing scores of Afghans.

The U.S. military's mission in the country came to an end Monday -- early Tuesday morning in Kabul -- as the last American troops flew out of Afghanistan, ending the longest war in U.S. history.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said Monday the U.S. had completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, marking an end to the longest war in American history. “The last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan,” McKenzie said.
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