Hundreds attend as local Marine is laid to rest

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    WEST MILFORD-he sky itself seemed to weep as a cold rain soaked some 50 residents who braved the bone-chilling cold, Jan. 8, to pay their respects to a fallen hometown hero. As a hearse carrying the remains of this community's first casualty of the Iraq War drove slowly to the church on Germantown Road where he would be buried, signs of support for the family were interspersed with hand-held Star-Spangled Banners on Highlander Drive at Macopin Road. Brian P. Parrello, 19, a lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, was laid to rest with full military honors in St. Joseph Cemetery here. More than 300 people including family, residents and politicians attended the funeral mass that preceded the burial. A contingent of U.S. Marines provided the honor guard and served as pallbearers. The 2003 graduate of West Milford High School normally was assigned to small riverine boats patrolling waterways "like the Tigris and Euphrates," said 1st Lt. Kate VandenBossche, a public affairs officer with the 2nd Marine Division. The lieutenant declined to provide further details on Parrello's death, saying such details could provide information of use to the enemy. Euphrates following an ambush earlier that day, according to a published report on the Internet. Riverine boats are the "Swift" boats of Vietnam fame. However, the lance corporal apparently died doing what he wished to do: serving his country. While in school, Parrello aspired to joining the military. That jelled into determination following the 9-11 attacks on the United States, according to an article in the New Jersey Herald on Jan. 4. Realizing he would face assignment to a combat zone, Parrello nevertheless enlisted in the Marine Corps following graduation, the Herald reported, quoting his older brother, Anthony: "He always wanted to stick up for the little guy." First Sgt. Martin Hansen, the casualty assistance calling officer who notified the Parrello family, confirmed the family was devastated by the loss. The family reportedly was notified of his death about 2 p.m. Saturday. By Monday, word had spread throughout this 80-square-mile community. High school Principal Michael McCormick said he was "college material and could have gone to college but he wanted to go into the Marines. He was a hockey and football player and a college prep student. He was never in trouble. "In the spring of his senior year, he said he had already enlisted in the Marines and was going to go in after graduation. It's very difficult for us. It really hits home when it's one of yours. "