GASTONIA, N.C. - More than a thousand people lined a memorial procession route to honor a local Marine Monday.
21 year-old Lance Corporal Nicholas O’Brien died when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan. O’Brien was from Gaston County.
Firefighter David Toomey showed us the American flag he was about to put up over Wilkinson Boulevard before the procession arrived. "He paid the ultimate price, " Toomey said.
The further you went down Wilkinson Boulevard, the more people, flags and signs you found that thanked O'Brien for his service.
"This is my family's way of saying welcome home. We're glad and we're happy with everything you did for us. Grateful for what you put on the line for us," said family acquaintance Page Alves.
Alves' daughter Emily knew O'Brien. Her daughter plans to join the military. O'Brien was a mentor to her daughter and taught her what to expect.
"This has solidified her resolve in what she wants to do," Alves said.
Air Force veteran Paul Salos was on the procession route, too. He wanted O'Brien's family to know one thing:"That the community is behind them 100 percent," he said.
Friends, acquaintances, strangers, senior citizens, young children, police officers, firefighters, fellow soldiers and bikers all lined the route to First Assembly of God, where O’Brien’s funeral was held Monday afternoon.
"It's all about Lance Corporal O'Brien today and his family," said mourner Beth Watts.
A local boy served his country and gave all.
"How much his family is going to miss him, that's what I'm thinking about," said Navy veteran Ed Gallagher
O’Brien will be buried next Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.