Hundreds Attend Lenox Funeral for MarineBy Andy McKeever
03:30PM / Friday, March 29, 2013
Marines carry the casket of their comrade-in-arms, Lance Cpl. Roger W. Muchnick Jr., from St. Ann's Church. Muchnick, whose family hails from Lenox, was laid to rest in the church cemetery.
LENOX, Mass. — Hundreds of friends, family and community members filled St. Ann's church Friday for the funeral of 23-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Roger W. Muchnick Jr. who was killed when a mortar shell exploded during a training exercise in Nevada.
Muchnick was one of seven Marines killed in the explosion. The Connecticut native served in Afghanistan as a mortar man with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He comes from a family with strong ties to both Lenox and the military.
"It's a very patriotic family," Michael Pignatelli, who spoke to media on behalf of the family prior to the 11 a.m. service.
Muchnick Jr. is the grandchild of Robert and Maryann Coakley of Lenox and he spent a lot of time with them growing up. Muchnick was buried Friday next to his great uncle Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Coakley, who was killed over North Vietnam in 1966.
William Coakley was missing in action for 23 years before his body was recovered and he was buried in Lenox in 1989. Later, a section of Routes 7 and 20 was renamed in his honor, a ceremony Muchnick attended.
"They've made great sacrifices," said William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox, who spoke at the funeral as a longtime friend of the families, not as a state representative.
He added that, "our families have been friends for 80 years."
Michael Pignatelli said it is "very meaningful to the family" to have the service at the same church from which William Coakley was buried.
Smitty Pignatelli was the only elected official to speak at the funeral because of the close ties, but other elected officials were on hand. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, state Auditor Suzanne Bump of Great Barrington, state Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Ken Turner and state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, were all expected to attend.
The church was filled to its capacity, with many people standing. Crowd estimates ranged from 700 to 1,100.
Outside of the church during the services, Berkshire County Here at Home Committee members handing out flags to community members standing in the streets.
"We're going to stand and show respect for him," committee member Kathy Mickle said and about a dozen group members lined the sidewalk in front.
Muchnick grew up in Westport, Conn., and graduated from high school. A Westport Police detail helped escort the funeral procession from St. Ann's to the parish cemetery. Lenox Police had closed off Main Street from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., after the procession had passed.
"This is a tragic loss for the country," said Michael Pignatelli.
Muchnick is the county's second full-military funeral in less than a year. Last August, North Adams native Michael DeMarsico was killed in Afghanistan and was buried with full military honors.