Hundreds of mourners turn out to honor fallen Ohio soldier
Hamilton (Ohio) JournalNews
HAMILTON, Ohio – The campus of Badin High School was decorated with American flags Friday, as the family of a fallen soldier was inside to accept condolences from hundreds of mourners.
A visitation was held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday for Staff Sgt. Robert A. Massarelli, 32, who was killed June 24 while serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Massarelli is the son of Pat and Mary Massarelli of Hamilton. He also has two brothers, Mike and Ben Massarelli.
More than 40 members of the Ohio Patriot Guard were in attendance to help transform the Pfirman Family Activity Center behind Badin into a memorial for the fallen soldier.
A photo board and projected slide show depicted a smiling Massarelli – with family, friends, military comrades, school diplomas and cars. Massarelli grew up in Kentwood, Mich., a suburb of Grand Rapids, where he was a 1998 graduate of East Kentwood High School.
School officials at Badin said earlier in the week, the visitation was to be held at Badin because of the family’s strong ties to the school.
Massarelli’s mother is a graduate of Badin and his uncle Greg Renneker retired in June 2011 after teaching English at Badin for 41 years, according to the school.
A poem called “The Broken Chain” by Ron Tranmer was displayed during the visitation service sharing the message, “We little knew that day, God was going to call your name. ... Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.”
Massarellias well as Sgt. Michael J. Strachota, 28, of White Hall, Ark.died while serving as part of the 96th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command in Fort Hood, Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Sgt. Laura Bulvas said in past years she worked in the same platoon as Massarelli with the 66th Transportation Company. She said Massarelli always maintained a sense of humor.
“Sgt. Massarelli wasn’t the type of guy that wanted to be in the spotlight, he was often in the background but everyone knew him for his quirky sense of humor,” Bulvas said. “Sgt. Massarelli was truly a genuine guy, he always had good intentions in everything that he did. He will truly be missed.”
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Julie Billiart Church, 224 Dayton St., Hamilton. Burial will follow at St. Stephen Cemetery, with full military honors.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be directed to The Fisher House for Families of the Fallen, 116 Purple Heart Drive Dover AFB, Dover, DE 19902 or to the USO, 2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1200, Arlington, VA 22201.
Distributed by MCT Information Services