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Fallen Marine Honored in Waldwick [Photo Gallery]

Hundreds of residents paid their last respects to fallen Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph D'Augustine Tuesday during a procession through his hometown of Waldwick.

Clutching American flags under a crisp azure sky, hundreds of residents lined the streets of Waldwick Tuesday to pay their last respects to fallen Staff Sgt. Joseph D’Augustine, who was killed last week in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. 

D’Augustine, a 29-year-old explosive ordinance disposal technician and 2001 graduate of Waldwick High School, received a hero’s return with a procession through his hometown.

The procession started at the Route 17 north exit ramp at Sheridan Avenue, went past his home on Campbell Street, through the center of town on East Prospect Street and to Waldwick High School, before it circled back around to St. Luke’s Church in Ho-Ho-Kus.

“It’s an honor to be here for someone who gave his life for me … even though it’s not someone I know,” said Judy Mullane, a patriotically-dressed Wyckoff resident. “It doesn’t matter what town you come from. They all deserve the honor of what they’ve done, where they’ve served.”

A group of D’Augustine’s high school classmates huddled solemnly with their families on East Prospect Street in the center of town, a large American flag jointly suspended by Waldwick and Wyckoff-area fire engines hovering overhead.

“My husband and I both graduated with Joe in 2001,” said Tatiana Marquis, who like many of D’Augustine’s former classmates, wore a baby blue t-shirt with his high school nickname “Daggo,” and his football number “4” printed on the back to memorialize her friend.

“He was just a really light-hearted, happy person and liked to make people smile and that’s the way that we’re all going to remember him.”

Marquis said she and her husband, also named Joe, had kept in close touch with D’Augustine after high school and regularly got together with him when he was home on leave.

“My husband was emailing with him up until a few weeks ago,” she said.

D’Augustine’s death was compounded by the fact he was expected back home in a couple weeks for his sister Nicole's wedding. 

“Nicole is getting married next month and I think that was like the light at the end of the tunnel, was to get to that point where he could come home for the wedding,” Marquis said.

Supporting a grieving family during a time of loss is one that resonates with Michael Drungoole, who traveled from Dumont for the procession.

Drungoole, a Vietnam veteran, said he’s especially sensitive to the needs of military families who have lost a loved one because he served as a notification and next-of-kin officer after returning from Vietnam.

“When tragedies like this happened, I would be the one going to a home and knocking on the door, informing the mother, the father, the brother, the sister, the aunt that they just lost a family member,” he said. “It’s brutal. I’ve watched parents collapse in the hallway, on the job. I had one mother jump into the coffin with her child. It’s tough duty.”

Drungoole said he's attended multiple events for fallen soldiers throughout Bergen County in recent years, and although he didn't know D'Augustine personally, he was compelled to attend.

"I try to show my respect to a fallen comrade," he said. "It’s a horrible tragedy. This young man, he obviously did what he wanted to do. He served his country proudly."

D’Augustine, who left for the Marines the day after he graduated from Waldwick High School, had served two tours in Iraq and was on his second deployment in Afghanistan. 

A funeral service will be held Wednesday at St. Luke's Church in Ho-Ho-Kus, followed by an interment at St. Luke's cemetery.  

In lieu of flowers, D'Augustine's family has requested donations be made to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation or the Semper Fi Fund.

glenn cribbin April 03, 2012 at 07:07 PM
God bless all those who are in pain from our loss. Glenn Cribbin USMC ret.
John Hahn April 03, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I went to honor this fallen Marine with our son 16 and my friend. It was a simple yet moving opportunity to say a quiet thank you for his sacrifice. There were not 100's of people. There were thousands. This event should be held in every town where a person in service to our country is lost. It reminds us all that we have lost a fellow countryman.
WoodMom April 03, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Many warm thoughts with his family and friends. No words or actions can properly show our gratitude and admiration. I believe he will continue to watch over and protect for all those he cared for and loved.
Reverend Joseph A. Ianiro, Jr. DD April 03, 2012 at 09:53 PM
To his family and friends I can only say: "May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Numbers 6:24
Sandi April 05, 2012 at 01:00 PM
RIP, SSgt. Proud to say you were from my hometown. So wished you were walking down the street to recieve such a warm welcome home . . . .thank you for your service and thanks to your family for sharing you

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