Hundreds Line Pittsfield Streets to Mourn Fallen Soldier
UPDATED: May 23, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.
DALTON, Mass. — A procession transported the body of Army Spec. Mitchell Daehling to St. Agnes Church on Thursday.
Calling hours are from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday and the funeral will be held on Friday. The procession began at Dery Funeral Home in Pittsfield and proceeded up North Street to East Street, across Plastics Avenue to Dalton Avenue to Merrill Road and into Dalton.
The route again was lined with citizens paying their respects. The Dalton Police Honor Guard served a pallbearers and the Dalton Fire Department raised a flag outside of the church.
Daehling arrived shortly after noon. Photos from the procession can be found here.
Army Spec. Mitchell Daehling's body returned to the Berkshires on Wednesday. A funeral service will be held on Friday. More photos can be found here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Area residents from Lee to Pittsfield lined streets Wednesday to honor fallen Army Spec. Mitchell Daehling, as a procession carried his body back to Berkshire County.
The 24-year-old Wahconah High School graduate was one of four soldiers who were killed on May 14 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Daehling's body was transported by Patriot Guard Riders, Dalton Police and state police, along with individual town police to Dery Funeral Home on Wednesday. A funeral with full military honors will be held on Friday at St. Agnes' Church in Dalton.
"He'll be awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart," Veterans Agent Rosanne Frieri said.
Hundreds of people lined North Street on Friday, including local businesses, schools and organizations. The Fire Department raised a flag near the intersection of Bradford Street for the motorcade to cross under as it made the final turn into the funeral home.
At the funeral home, Patriot Guard Riders from all over the region stood guard with flags and waited until the family left.
But the honor wasn't just in Pittsfield. The body was transferred to Barnes Air National Guard Airport in Westfield Wednesday morning, where Frieri said he received full-military salutes.
When the motorcade, which included the his family and the family of his wife, Samantha Daehling, exited the Massachusetts Turnpike, Lee Police helped escort the body to Lenox, where Lenox Police, in turn, joined the escort to Pittsfield. In every town, people with flags stood on the roads honoring Daehling.
"It was just overwhelming and so greatly deserved. From the time we hot off the turnpike, every town had the fire department of the police on the road," Frieri said. "I just think it was great community support. I am very proud of the folks in Pittsfield."
Born in Kemmerer, Wyo., on July 6, 1988, he was the son of Kirk and Brenda Daehling of Dalton and graduated from Wahconah in 2006. He was educated in Idaho schools prior to moving to the Berkshires for his sophomore year in high school. After graduation, he attended Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H.
He attended Infantry Combat School at Fort Benning, Ga., graduating on Dec. 16, 2010. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, where the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, based.
He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat and Special Skills Badge and the Basic Marksmanship Qual Badge, Expert.
He married the former Samantha McNamara of Westford last June and six months later was deployed to Afghanistan. The couple lived in Westford. Daehling also leaves his brother, Adam, and sister, Kayla, both of Dalton; his maternal grandmother, Mary Sander; paternal grandparents, William A. Daehling and Violet J. Daehling, of Clarkston, Wash.; and his wife's family.
The funeral will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Agnes' Church and the body will be transferred to Lewiston, Idaho, where he will be buried next to his grandfather, Kenneth J. Sander, who was also awarded a Purple Heart for his service during the Korean War. Sander died in 2009.
Those expected to attend the funeral include U.S. Department of Veterans Services Secretary Coleman Nee, Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.
Calling hours will be held on Thursday from 4 until 7 p.m. at St. Agnes Church. Westford Veterans Service Officer Terry Sadler, who rode with the motorcade Wednesday, said a memorial is expected to be held at St. Catherine's Church, where the couple was married, at a later date.
"There has been some discussion but nothing is confirmed. There is no date set," Sadler said.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in his memory be may be made to the USO or the Military Friends Foundation in care of Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.
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