“He was the only one who lost his life in that platoon,’’ she said. “But I have kept up with them. They loved him like a brother. And I don’t want them to have survivors’ guilt.”
Pollini, who was married and from a close-knit family with five other siblings, was a 2006 graduate of Rockland High School, and worked at the meat department of the Hannaford’s Supermarket in that town. He was a military policeman and a member of the 772d Military Police Company — an Army National Guard unit based in Taunton. He died when the vehicle he was riding in tipped over on bomb-torn ground.
At the time of his death, family members fondly recalled his propensity for practical jokes and how much he loved paintball and fireworks.
Rockland veterans services director Anton Materna said he is grateful a lasting memorial will honor the three local boys.
“I remember when I got the phone calls’’ about their deaths, he said. “It was very emotional. Hopefully, we don’t have to dedicate any more parks.”
Coleman Nee, the state secretary for veterans services, said he can’t say enough about the plan to honor Farrar, O’Haire, and Pollini.
“When you do something like this, you honor all the Gold Star families,’’ Nee said. “For most ordinary folks, who don’t live it every day, it’s really not at the top of their minds. But it is for the 160-plus families in Massachusetts who have had someone go off and not return.”
The Rev. Jim Hickey, pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Rockland, knows about the sadness of loss all too well, having conducted the funerals and burial services of both O’Haire and Pollini.
“Rockland is a very traditional place, very blue-collar,’’ Hickey said. “And there is a lot of regard for the sacrifices of these guys.”
So when residents heard about the plans to memorialize the fallen soldiers’ service at SouthField, the reaction was good, Hickey said. Already, the town has placed a memorial for Pollini at the corner of Union and Market streets, and for O’Haire at the corner of Union Street and North Avenue, he said.
“People feel enormously supportive of their families,’’ Hickey said. “It tears your heart out, they are such special people.’’
Saturday’s service takes place at 9:30 a.m. at the SouthField Town Green on Parkview Street.
Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.