The Leominster community said its final goodbyes to fallen Marine Capt. Ross Reynolds during a funeral service at St. Cecilia’s Church on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people lined up for hours to pay their respects to the 27-year-old at a public wake at Leominster City Hall Monday night. His fellow marines took turns watching over his flag-draped casket in the auditorium.
Reynolds, a Leominster native, was one of four Marines killed when their aircraft crashed on March 18 during a NATO drill in a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Dean Mazzarella joined family and friends Monday as they paused to remember a life lost too soon.
"He was phenomenal. It’s a huge loss for our country and this city," said Tiffany Thibodeau, who grew up with Reynolds.
She said he always wanted to serve his country.
"Ross' biggest legacy...he set goals, reached them, was kind to everybody," she said.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.
"It was touching and emotional. Lots of pride, but definitely a celebration of life," noted Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella.
The Osprey pilot, who joined the Marines in 2017, was an Eagle Scout who graduated from Leominster High School and Worcester State University. He was just married in February.
Fellow veterans said it was important for them to be present to honor Reynolds’ ultimate sacrifice.
Vietnam War Veteran Army Captain Alan Swartz, who sang for the family during a vigil Sunday night at Leominster City Hall and attended the wake, spoke of a shared connection with Reynolds and all those who serve.
“The whole city of Leominster has embraced this young man," Swartz said Monday. "And being a veteran myself, I feel a kinship. I think all veterans feel a kinship to anyone, and especially under the conditions that he went through unfortunately, and a life obviously cut way too short."
On Saturday, Reynolds' body was taken from Logan Airport to Leominster in a 50-mile procession to the city. Residents of the town, many of them former service members, stood on the sides of Leominster's streets to pay their respects.
The funeral procession began at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday from Leominster City Hall to St. Cecilia’s Church. The streets were lined with community members paying their respects.
The funeral Mass followed at St. Cecilia's Church. It was followed by a private burial at the Massachusetts Memorial Veterans' Cemetery in Winchendon.