US Marine Sgt. Daniel M. Vasselian returned to hometown of Abington for memorial services
ABINGTON – James Whiting today came to this town’s memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to pay his respects to Marine Sergeant Daniel M. Vasselian, the first resident of this South Shore town to die in combat since the Vietnam War.
Whiting, 39, did not know Vasselian, a 27-year-old Abington native who was killed in combat operations in Afghanistan during his third tour of duty on Tuesday. But Whiting, who counts many veterans among his family, said Vasselian’s death has struck a chord with him.
“It’s very sobering. I actually broke down the other night,” Whiting said at the memorial, which also honors Abington residents who safely served their country. “I am 39. I was 27 once. I was drinking and partying at that age.’’
He added, “This guy was living more of a life than most of us could ever dream of. And he paid the ultimate sacrifice. God bless his soul.’’
Vasselian’s remains were flown to Logan Airport on a jet and greeted by a Marine escort. Led by an escort of State and Abington police, a black hearse with Vasselian’s remains travelled down Interstate 93 onto Route 3 and then onto Route 18 in Weymouth, and ultimately, into Abington.
Thousands stood, some holding American flags, as the procession passed them by in Weymouth and as it wound its way through Abington past the Vasselian family home on Adams Street, past Abington High School where he graduated in 2004, and then through the heart of the town before it stopped at the Quealy and Son Funeral Home on Adams street.
Vasselian will be waked at the funeral home from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Thursday, a funeral Mass will be held at St. Bridget’s Roman Catholic Church on Plymouth Street in Abington.
Burial will be at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Abington.
American flags were abundantly displayed and seemingly every utility pole in town was draped with a yellow ribbon. Every business marquee made note of Vasselian’s sacrifice in Abington, and in neighboring Weymouth as well where a highway flasher sign had a unique message, all in capital letters.
“SEMPER FI SGT VASS. THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE. AND WEYMOUTH SALUTES YOU.’’
Vasselian died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, the Department of Defense said Tuesday in a statement.
He was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and had been assigned to the First Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., the Defense Department said.Eric Moskowitz can be reached at email@example.com. John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.