FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A motorcade of veterans and motorcycle clubs escorted the remains of a Marine killed in a military plane crash in Mississippi home to New Jersey.
The coffin bearing the body of 20-year-old Cpl. Dan Baldassare left Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday. It was taken to Clayton & McGirr Funeral Home in Freehold, New Jersey, where his family was waiting. Baldassare’s funeral will take place Tuesday at the Colts Neck High School football field.
Baldassare was among 15 Marines and a Navy sailor who died when their military transport plane slammed into soybean fields in the Mississippi Delta on July 10.
Nine of the Marines on board had been stationed at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.
The U.S. military and FBI continue to investigate the cause of the crash, but say they do not suspect foul play.
CBS2’s Meg Baker spoke to a group of three veterans who took the day off from work to honor Baldassare.
“He’s a brother Marine,” said Bob Taisma, of Brick. “Semper fidelis, always faithful.”
“It’s so sad, you know,” he added. “I think about the parents and what they have to deal with now.”
The parade of motorcycles was organized by the Strength and Honor Motorcycle Club of New Jersey.
“He put his life on the line to protect us, and he deserves everything that we can do for him,” said Chuck Bitner of the Trenton Marine Corps League.
Baldassare served with the Marine Corps Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, stationed at Stewart.
“These kids have given so much, and it’s just a shame a young life has to be taken away so soon,” said Joseph Sabasto.
Forever a Marine, Perth Amboy resident Vince Garibaldi brought his military flag from home to show his respects.
“They actually died in the line of duty,” he said. “They may not have been in combat, but when you serve your country, anything can happen, and it did happen.”
Friends, family and total strangers came out to support the local hero.
“They need a lot of support,” said Holly Morgan, who lives near Baldassare’s family. “And I just want to be there to help them in any way I can.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)