Berkshire County pays its respect as body of fallen Dalton soldier comes home


PITTSFIELD -- Scores of people, many holding small American flags, lined North Street on Wednesday morning to greet the motorcade procession returning the body of U.S. Army Spc. Mitchell K. Daehling to the Berkshires on Wednesday, eight days after the 24-year-old Dalton man was killed in action in Afghanistan.

A few wiped away tears as the motorcade made its way slowly toward the Dery Funeral Home on Bradford Street.

"I wanted to show my support for the family," said Bob Cardimino of North Adams, who served in the Navy during the Korean War.

At least 50 people stood on North Street in the vicinity of Park Square.

Kathy Mickle, the chairwoman of the Here at Home Committee of Berkshire County, said people as far south as Lee watched the motorcade pass as it exited the Mass Pike on its way to Pittsfield from Barnes Air National Guard Airport in Westfield.

The Here at Home Committee had also asked employers to let workers stand on North Street when the motorcade passed. Sizable contingents of employees from the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and the Greylock Federal Credit Union were in attendance.

"It touches everyone, you know," said John Bissell, Greylock's executive vice president.

Veteran Services coordinator Rosanne Frieri, who rode in the motorcade from Westfield, said workers at the Berkshire Life Insurance Company came out to view the procession as it traveled South Street. Construction workers working on the South Street reconstruction project stopped what they were doing and held a moment of silence as the cars passed.

On upper North Street curving onto Bradford Street, crowd members ranged from the day care children and staff of Pittsfield Family YMCA to members of the Pittsfield police and fire departments to students from St. Joseph Central High School.

Plans are underway for a second tribute ahead of Thursday's wake

Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD -- A second tribute to U.S. Army Spec. Mitchell K. Daehling is scheduled to take place in Dalton on Thursday.

Town Manager Kenneth Walto said Dalton residents are being asked to line Main Street between 11:30 a.m. and noon to form a "silent citizen honor guard" as Daehling's remains are transported to St. Agnes Church at 489 Main St.

The 24-year-old Daehling's body is expected to leave the Dery Funeral Home in Pittsfield around 11:30 and arrive at St. Agnes by noon.

Calling hours for Daehling, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on May 14, will take place between 4 and 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Agnes. A funeral service with full military honors will be held at St. Agnes at 11 a.m. on Friday. Daehling will be buried in Idaho next to his grandfather.

A Dalton resident, Daehling was a 2006 graduate of Wahconah Regional High School. He is the first Wahconah graduate to be killed in action since the Vietnam War.

Members of the Patriot Guard, a motorcycle group of military veterans that accompanied Daehling's body from Westfield to Pittsfield on Wednesday, will be present at both the wake and funeral, according to local Patriot Guard Captain Rick Grandbois.

Gov. Deval Patrick will be among the dignitaries who are scheduled to attend Daehling's funeral, according to Veterans' Services Director Rosanne M. Frieri.

Dozens of veterans from outside Berkshire County are also expected to attend both services.

"This is a big loss from them, for us all," said Mike Gormalley, a retired senior director for the VFW national headquarters, who was present at Wednesday's procession down North Street.

"It was a beautiful show of support from the community, from our exit on the MassPike to Pittsfield," Frieri said.

Many people held flags, while some held palms to their foreheads or held their hands over their hearts. One girl pressed her hands together and whispered a prayer as two black limousines and a hearse escorting Daehling's family, military personnel and Daehling's casket, respectively, pulled up to the entrance to the funeral home.

Standing there to greet them in solidarity were nearly two-dozen members from the Massachusetts-based Patriot Guard Riders, along with other members from the local and regional Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America chapters.

The Daehling family was escorted into the funeral home by staff and the Rev. Christopher Malatesta, pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Dalton. The wake is from 4-7 p.m. Thursday at the church, while the funeral is at 11 a.m. on Friday.

One of the people standing on North Street was 19-year-old Adam DeMarsico of North Adams, the younger brother of U.S. Army Pfc. Michael R. DeMarsico II, who was killed in action in Afghanistan last August. Wearing sunglasses, DeMarsico came clad in a black sweatshirt with his brother's picture on the back.

"It's rough," DeMarsico said.

DeMarsico was asked if Wednesday's tribute to Daehling brought back any memories.

"Tears, mostly," he said, before leaving North Street and heading off alone.

To view our photo coverage of Wednesday morning's procession, check out our Facebook page.


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