DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ As the funeral procession passed, carrying the coffin of third-generation airman Todd J. Lobraico Jr., hundreds of people lined the route, some waving American flags.
The 22-year-old staff sergeant had acted to save members of his unit when it came under attack last week in Afghanistan and he was killed, Stamford police chaplain John Revell told mourners at Lobraico’s funeral Friday at Western Connecticut State University, where he was studying justice and law administration.
Revell said unit members related how Lobraico was leading a foot patrol with eight other airmen and his actions helped the others take cover when they were ambushed near Bagram Airfield. They “stressed that it was T.J.’s actions that were undeniably responsible for their safety,” he said.
Lobraico had followed in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents in serving with the 105th Security Forces Squadron of the New York Air National Guard, where his parents continue to serve. Lobraico’s father, Todd, is an officer in the Stamford Police Department and veteran of the first Gulf War.
At the funeral, Lobraico’s older sister, Jessika, talked about his sense of humor _ he loved tuxedo shirts and his dog, an English Mastiff named Gus, had its own Facebook page. She said she would keep her remarks as upbeat as possible.
“My brother gets uncomfortable around sad and crying people,” she said.
Lobraico was sent to Afghanistan at the end of June. He had served previously in Iraq from December 2010 to June 2011. The military said he was killed by small arms fire when the unit was attacked, but it has not provided additional details on the circumstances.
Brig. Gen. Allen Jamerson, director of security forces for the Air Force, said at the funeral that Lobraico had been a point man in previous encounters with enemy fighters.
“So when this last incident happened guess who was on the front,” Jamerson said. He said Lobraico’s actions undoubtedly helped to protect others’ lives.
Lobraico, a 2008 graduate of New Fairfield High School, has been awarded the Operation Enduring Freedom Medal, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, the Purple Heart and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He is also a candidate for the Bronze Star.
The funeral was held inside the O’Neill Center at the university. A scholarship fund has been established in his name.
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