A public funeral service will be held at Forest Lawn Covina Hills today for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, who was among 13 service members killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
Merola’s remains were carried in a procession Tuesday from Ontario International Airport and through the streets of his hometown of Rancho Cucamonga — including a pass by his alma mater Los Osos High School, — eventually arriving at Forest Lawn in preparation for Sunday’s services.
Thousands of people lined sidewalks and freeway overpasses along the procession route, many of them holding American flags.
“It’s a sad day,” Upland resident Mark Bertone told NBC4. “I have a son who spent eight years of his life in and out of Afghanistan. Part of me feels blessed that I still have him with me.”
Merola, 20, died Aug. 26 in the attack at Kabul Airport that also killed 10 other Marines, a U.S. Navy corpsman and a U.S. Army soldier, along with more than 100 Afghanis.
Two other Southland Marines — Lance Cpl. Kareem Grant Nikoui, 20, of Norco, and Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio — also died in the attack.
“You got these young kids — 19, 20, 21 years old, they show up to work to help over a hundred thousand people escape the tyranny of the Taliban and they’re gone,” Bertone said.
The public funeral service for Merola will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Forest Lawn mausoleum, 21300 Via Verde St., followed by a private burial service.