Warren Marine killed in copter crash mourned at funeral
Warren — Family, the fiancée and friends of Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol said a final farewell during his funeral at St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church on Thursday.
"That was my little brother," said longtime friend Ben Shivachi, 29, of Warren.
Bawol, 26, of Warren along with Staff Sgts. Trevor P. Blaylock of Lake Orion and Andrew Seif of Holland were killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash March 10.
They were among seven Marines and four Army soldiers killed when the helicopter crashed along Florida's Panhandle in a nighttime training exercise in dense fog.
Those killed were all stationed at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina. All were from the 2nd Special Operations Battalion of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
After Thursday's funeral service, six members of the Michigan Patriot Guard Riders formed two flag lines outside the doors of St. Louise de Marillac. The massive church doors slowly opened, revealing seven Marines accompanying Bawol's casket, which was draped with an American flag.
"It is about honor, respect and remembering our heroes, their service and sacrifice," said Vito, a Patriot Guard Rider. It is protocol that members use only one name.
He added the Patriot Guard Riders will also be present at Blaylock's funeral Saturday at Lake Orion United Methodist Church. His father could not be reached for comment.
According to the Holland Sentinel, Seif's funeral services have yet to be announced.
Blaylock, 29, swam on the varsity swim team at Lake Orion. After graduation, he attended Henry Ford Community College.
In 2006, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and was previously stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Al Anbar Province.
Friends say he has a wife and two daughters.
As the seven Marines placed Bawol's casket in a gray hearse, the haunting sound of bagpipes played.
Shivachi put his arms around Bawol's parents.
"His (Bawol) mom is my best friend. That is my mom," said Shivachi.
Bawol was a 2006 graduate of Warren Mott High School, where he played baseball and football, and was on the swim team. Bawol attended Olivet College for a year before joining the Marine Corps in 2008.
He and Erika Hipple were to be married Oct. 17 in East Jordan.
Bawol "loved everything about the military," his sister, Brandy Peek, told the press earlier this month.
Mayor James Fouts said Bawol will be honored at a May 8 event to honor World War II veterans.
As cars slowly exited the church parking lot, a solemn rendition of "God Bless America" lilted from St. Louise de Marillac.
Shivachi struggled with emotion trying to select words that best conveyed what he will miss about Bawol.
"I can't even talk about it," he said.
Bawol will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Time: 11 a.m.
Where: United Methodist Church of Lake Orion, 140 E. Flint St.