RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Residents of a New Jersey town stood together Monday as the body of a soldier killed in Afghanistan was returned home.
A military honor guard escorted the body of Army Staff Sgt. Timothy McGill from Teterboro Airport to his hometown of Ramsey.
Shops along Main Street are lined with flags in McGill’s memory and the town handed out 10,000 flags to residents who lined the streets as McGill passed through a final time.
As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, those who knew McGill and those who didn’t lined the mile-long Main Street to honor the fallen Marine.
“Just to think that that could be somebody close to me or even my husband and just the fact that I know what the families have gone through,” an Army wife told Diamond through tears.
The 30-year-old Special Forces soldier was one of three troops shot on Sept. 21 by an Afghan wearing a security forces uniform in an attack in Gardez. The area, near the border with Pakistan, has been a front line in fighting with the Taliban and other militants.
“He was one of the most elite soldiers in the world,” McGill’s father, Ray, said. “Words can’t describe the loss we feel right now.”
The lifelong Ramsey resident was a member of the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department and had worked for the town’s public works department between deployments.
“He was a big boy, a gently guy, I always called him the teddy bear,” Ramsey Fire Department Chief Randy Sterbinsky said. “It’s just hard to swallow for the whole department.”
McGill enlisted with the Marines in August 2001. He was deployed to Iraq with the Marines in 2005. He joined the Rhode Island National Guard in 2008 and qualified as an elite Special Forces soldier in 2011.
“He’s a true American hero and the town’s gonna give him the sendoff that he deserves,” Sgt. John Rigg said. “If there’s somebody you want behind you, Tim would be the man.”
In May, Ramsey native and Marine Special Forces Staff Sgt. Eric D. Christian, 39, was killed in action in Farah Province. Like McGill, Christian was a football player at Ramsey High School.
Another Ramsey native, 23-year-old Cpl. Michael Jankiewicz, was killed on April 9, 2010 when the CV-22 Osprey he was flying in crashed in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
Ramsey High School teacher Maggie Gorman knew them all.
“Definitely too young and too many, absolutely,” she told Diamond.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)