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Proud Marine, loving daughter: Family mourns Latina killed in Afghanistan

“There’s always some that stick out. ... She was one of them,” a veteran services director said about Dominican American Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario.

She’s being remembered as a devoted daughter who was proud of her Latina heritage — and someone so committed to her military mission that she was asking her Marine captain about redeployment when she came back from Afghanistan.

Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, didn’t get a chance to serve again; she was one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan last week outside of Kabul’s airport. Her family and community of Lawrence, Massachusetts, are mourning her sudden loss as they prepare for her vigil to honor her life Tuesday night.

The 25-year-old leaves behind a close family — her sister, two brothers and her parents, who are heartbroken.

Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario.
Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario.Facebook

“My sister, she lost her life for the United States,” Erick Rosario, her brother, told NBC’s Boston affiliate outside his family’s home, as the family was preparing themselves to receive her remains. “She’s going to be home soon.”

The Marine was a graduate of Lawrence High School and spent a semester at Bridgewater State University before enlisting as a full-time U.S. Marine.

Capt. Austin Keeley, her officer in charge for 15 months before she deployed to the Middle East, said Rosario was proud of being Latina.

“She was fiercely proud of her heritage as a Dominican-American and wholly devoted to her mother, brothers, sister, and niece,” he tweeted, sharing that she held a lot of financial responsibility even as a corporal. “It’s unusual to place that much trust and confidence in a Marine so junior, but Rosie was so good that we never doubted her.”

Keeley said that on the day she left to go to Afghanistan last week, she emailed him about getting the opportunity to deploy again, words that exemplified how she saw service as “a privilege.”

“So that’s who we lost. A proud Dominican-American. A daughter, sister, girlfriend, and auntie. A student and a teacher. A caretaker. A United States Marine,” he wrote. “Sergeant Rosie, I’m so proud of the Marine you became. I’ll forever be inspired by the work you did, the lives you saved, and the sacrifice you made. Thank you for everything.”

‘There’s always some that stick out. ... She was one of them’

Her family will be honoring the life of the Dominican American Marine in a community vigil held Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, according to Mayor Kendrys Vasquez.

Community members and veterans have stopped by the family’s home to pay their respects, and a GoFundMe drive has been created to help Rosario’s family.

wreath in memory of Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo
Retired Army Capt. Stephen Hunnewell stands with his family behind a wreath in memory of Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario following a ceremony at the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial on Saturday in Boston.Michael Dwyer / AP

Jaime Melendez, the director of Lawrence Veterans Services, found her death personally devastating, NBC Boston reported. He had worked with the Marine when she was a junior ROTC member, and though he’s worked with hundreds in his role, Melendez said she was special.

“There’s always some that stick out, you know, they just — they have a light about them, if you will. She was definitely one of those,” he said.

Family neighbor María Sicar said she cried when she heard the news.

“That woman was good and full of life at 25 years old,” she told Telemundo’s New England affiliate in Spanish. “We’re sad because a woman is gone — here comes someone armed to take her life.”

Another neighbor recalled Rosario would sit outside in a little folding chair next to her mom, and they would soak up the sun outside their doorstep.

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