A 29-year-old New Jersey Marine killed while dismantling a bomb in Afghanistan was remembered as a hero Wednesday before he was laid to rest.
Family, friends and fellow servicemen gathered at St. Luke's Church in Ho-Ho-Kus to mourn Staff Sgt. Joseph D'Augustine, who died just two weeks before he was to come home for his sister's wedding.
"He's one of the finest men I've ever come across in my entire life," said Gunner Sgt. Jason Eckman, who was D'Augustine's platoon sergeant on his first tour of duty in Iraq. "He always had a smile on his face, had the biggest heart that I’ve ever come across in any human being. And it’s been an absolute honor to know him and serve with him.”
After the funeral at the church, D'Augustine's flag-draped casket was taken to the neighboring cemetery, where he was laid to rest.
Tuesday, hundreds of residents in Waldwick lined the streets as police escorted the hearse carrying his body home.
"He was our prince and our hero in the family, and he's going to be so badly missed," D'Augustine's father Anthony D'Augustine said after the procession.
"It's a tough loss for this town," said Waldwick resident John Salamone, a World War II veteran. "I'm so proud of this town, how they all came out for Joey. He was a great Marine and a great boy."
D'Augustine graduated from Waldwick High School in 2001, where he wrestled and played football.
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