HOPATCONG, N.J. (AP) — Hundreds gathered in northern New Jersey for the funeral of a soldier who was killed in combat in Afghanistan.

Army Sgt. Michael Kirspel Jr. of Hopatcong was killed Oct. 27 by an improvised explosive device.

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More than 200 people packed into the Bermingham Funeral Home in Wharton on Saturday, while dozens of others lined nearby streets to show their respect for the fallen 23-year-old soldier.

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Kirspel joined the military shortly after graduating from Hopatcong High School in 2006. and had previously served a 13-month tour in Iraq. He most recently was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Officials say Kirspel could have left Afghanistan in July, but decided to stay with the soldiers he had helped train. His current tour of duty was expected to end in March.

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