NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman killed in this week’s Amtrak derailment was remembered Friday as a rising star who inspired others and “put everyone before himself.”

Classmates of Justin Zemser’s from the academy in Annapolis, Maryland, joined family members and students from Zemser’s Queens high school for the 20-year-old’s funeral on Long Island.

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“I just want to express to the family how phenomenal he was and how grateful we are to them for raising such an amazing man who had such a profound impact on all of our lives,” said Zemser’s commanding officer, Capt. Brandy Soublet, who delivered a eulogy.

PHOTOS: Funeral Of Justin Zemser

Soublet spoke to reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera, outside the Boulevard-Riverside-Hewlett Chapel on Long Island before Zemser’s funeral began.

The sophomore was traveling from the academy to his home in the Rockaways section of Queens when he was killed in Tuesday’s derailment in Philadelphia. He was one of eight people who died.

Aurora Perez, 17, who was a freshman Channel View School for Research when Zemser was a senior there, said Zemser often returned to the school and spoke to students.

Justin Zemser

Justin Zemser

“He just told everyone to, you know, reach for the stars and never give up on your dreams,” she said.

Perez said everyone at Channel View looked up to Zemser, including teachers.

“He just didn’t deserve to go this way,” Perez told CBS2’s Dave Carlin. “He was loving, caring. He put everyone before his self. He was not selfish at all.”

“Great team leader, and great person overall,” said one of his former football teammates. “He motivated people.”

“It could have been any on of us from our families traveling, and that’s why I’m just here,” another mourner said. “I work in the area, and my heart goes out to the families and Justin and his friends. … He is a hero of life and to all of us. He’s an inspiration.”

Mourners wearing black seemed to be outnumbered by the more than 150 midshipmen who arrived on buses wearing white uniforms.

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“I was with him the day of the crash,” said Andrew Salzman. “It’s the plebes’ (freshmen) last real big physical training, and they have people like Justin Zemser, who guide them along their way.”

After the service, the midshipmen lined a path for Zemer’s flag-draped coffin. His tearful mother, Susan, and father, Howard, followed behind.

“Justin Zemser personified everything that the Naval Academy’s about,” said Capt. Bill Byrne, another of Zemser’s commanding officers. “He’s a scholar, a warrior. He was loved, and he’s going to be sorely missed.”

Navy midshipmen carry the casket of Justin Zemser, who was killed in the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Navy midshipmen carry the casket of Justin Zemser, who was killed in the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Zemser was an English major and a member of the Navy sprint football team, the Jewish Midshipman Club and the Semper Fi Society, which is a Marine Corps club.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking at a news conference at Penn Station, said although he never met Zemser, he nominated him to the Naval Academy because his application stood out among hundreds his office receives. The senator noted that Zemser was a high school valedictorian, captain of the football team and did charitable work in the community.

“His loss, of course, is a loss to his family, and we all grieve for them. They’ll have a hole in their heart. But it’s a loss to America. This guy would have done great things for the U.S.”

Each of the victims of the crash were accomplished in their own right.

Derrick Griffith, 42, was dean of student affairs and enrollment management at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. He had just earned his doctorate last month. Griffith was also founder of CUNY Prep in the Bronx and had been a mentor to many.

Upper East Side resident Laura Finamore thrived in corporate real estate, earning multiple awards in the field; former New Jersey resident Bob Gildersleeve, 45, was traveling for work as vice president of a food safety company when he died.

Jim Gaines, 48, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, worked as a video software architect for The Associated Press; Rachel Jacobs, 39, of Manhattan, worked as a CEO of a tech company in Philadelphia; Abid Gilani, 55, of Maryland, was a senior vice president at Wells Fargo bank; and Giuseppe Piras, a wine and olive oil executive from Italy, was in the U.S. on business.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to determine if the engineer manually increased speed on the train as it accelerated for a full minute before it went off the tracks.

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