Fallen Marine Dylan Merola honored with procession through Rancho Cucamonga – San Bernardino Sun


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When a student at Los Osos High School, Dylan Merola wore black and red during the school’s theatrical productions.

Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, was killed in the bombing at Kabul airport on August 26, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

On Tuesday evening, September 21, Merola’s coffin walked past her Rancho Cucamonga alma mater, draped in red, white and blue.

A procession in honor of Marine Lance Cpl. Merola made her way through town and passed her high school, en route from Ontario International Airport to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Covina.

Merola, 20, was one of 13 U.S. servicemen killed in the attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26. Two other Marines from the Inland Empire, Lance Cpl. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, of Norco, and Cpl. Hunter Lopez, of Indio, was also killed in the suicide bombing. Eight other Marines, an Army soldier and a member of the Marine Corps were also killed in the attack, along with 169 Afghan civilians. At least 150 other people were injured in the shelling.

  • A funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who was killed in the Kabul airport attack last month, is passing his alma mater, Los Osos High School at Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Retired U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Albert Estrada honors the funeral procession of Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola walks past Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who was killed in the Kabul airport attack last month, walks past Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • People line up Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at Rancho Cucamonga for a funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola. The Marine, 20, was killed in a bomb attack at Kabul airport in August. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A hearse with the coffin of Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola walks past Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Los Osos high school students hold an American flag as a funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola walks past the Rancho Cucamonga campus on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Hundreds of people gather to honor Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola outside Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Students from Caryn Elementary School made posters in honor of Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola who were on display outside the school in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Hundreds of people gather to watch the funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola outside Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Hundreds watch the funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola walks past his alma mater, Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Los Osos high school students hold an American flag as a funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola walks past Rancho Cucamonga School on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • The Los Osos High School Marching Band is at attention on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, as the funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola passes. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A man puts a sailor flag on his all-terrain vehicle before the funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola moves to Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A mother and son walk past memorial students made for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola outside Caryn Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • The funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola is attending his alma mater, Los Osos High School at Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Hundreds of people gather for the funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola outside Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A student poster, seen on Tuesday September 21, 2021, honors Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola at Caryn Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • The funeral procession for Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who was killed in the Kabul airport attack last month, is passing his alma mater, Los Osos High School at Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

A crowd of around 400 gathered outside Los Osos High School with American flags, Marine Corps flags and a pro-Donald Trump flag or two. Most were calm and serious while waiting for the procession.

He arrived just at sunset. Police cars from across the region participated, including cruisers from Banning, Beaumont, Colton, Corona, Fontana, Menifee, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, West Covina and others, followed by motorcyclists in Harleys.

A member of the Los Osos Marching Band played tap dance as the hearse passed.

Many have wiped away tears.

Albert Estrada, a retired Marine Colonel and resident of Rancho Cucamonga, stepped out with colleagues from VFW Post 8680 to say goodbye to Merola.

“It is important to honor our fallen warriors, whether they are in the navy, navy, army or air force,” Estrada said. “They made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Hamilton Alvaranda, an Iraqi veteran from Rancho Cucamonga, took his children to see the procession.

“Thanks to people like him, we can enjoy the freedoms we have,” he said.

Earlier on the course, the procession passed by Caryn Elementary School, where red, white and blue balloons were attached to the fence. Flags of the United States and the Marine Corps were attached to trees and lampposts.

Residents await a funeral procession on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, for Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola at Rancho Cucamonga. (Photo by Beau Yarbrough, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

Along Highway 210 East, some drivers stopped their vehicles and parked near the median to wait for the procession.

At a vigil in Central Park on September 2, Merola’s mother Cheryl Rex said her son always wore military attire as a child.

“He wanted nothing more than to become a Marine,” Rex recalls that night.

Merola had been stationed in Kabul for less than two weeks and planned to go to college and study engineering, according to Rex.

Los Osos 2019 graduate Merola worked as a theater technician as a student. At the vigil earlier this month, Los Osos teacher Randy Shorts described Merola as a “shy and always smiling” student in her theater class who always wore a black shirt and red tie while directing. technology for school performance.

“Dylan wanted to join the Marines because he wanted to learn the discipline and make a difference,” Shorts said.

Merola’s funeral is scheduled for Sunday, September 26 at 2:30 p.m. at the Forest Lawn Mausoleum, 21300 Via Verde Street, Covina. The funeral is open to the public, but Merola will later be buried in a private service.

Merola is the third of three Californian servicemen killed in the Kabul airport attack to be buried. On Saturday, September 18, Nikou and Lopez were buried in Riverside, following funerals and memorial services in Riverside and Palm Springs, respectively. The three Marines will receive posthumous Purple Heart medals, along with 27 other service members killed or injured at the airport, the Pentagon announced on September 14.

Rancho Cucamonga will honor Merola at a future city council meeting with an armed forces banner, embellished with a gold star, according to Rancho Cucamonga Mayor L. Dennis Michael.


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