Body of Fallen Connecticut Airman Returns Home

Staff Sgt. T.J. Lobraico was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 5.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The remains of Staff Sgt. TJ Lobraico were returned to the Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY on Wednesday. He was killed in Afghanistan on September 5. (Published Thursday, Sep 12, 2013)

    More than 800 U.S. Air Force and New York Air National Guard members saluted the flag-draped casket containing the remains of Staff Sgt. Todd "T.J." Lobraico, who was killed in Afghanistan last Thursday.

    Lobraico's parents, both members of the Air Guard themselves, spent a few minutes alone with the coffin before the doors were opened to the hangar containing the coffin.

    His body was transported by cargo jet to the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y.

    Not one but two ceremonies were held in Afghanistan on Tuesday so Lobraico's comrades could pay their respects.

    After the doors opened for what the Air Guard chaplain Lt. Col. Bob Tilli called "a sacred fallen comrade ceremony," the casket was laid aboard the jet behind a podium.

    Col. Timothy Labarge, the wing commander for Lobraico's unit, told the crowd, "T.J. had a very bright future. I only need to look at his parents, Major Linda Rohatsch, and his father, Master Sergeant Todd Lobraico, and reflect on their achievements and the environment that they brought him up in."

    Pallbearers from an honor guard loaded the casket onto a hearse, and police led a motorcade off the base beneath a huge American flag.

    Lobraico was 10 years old when the U.S. went into Afghanistan. He served in Iraq in 2011 and was 22 when he was killed in Afghanistan.

    Calling hours will be held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the arena at Western Connecticut State University, where Lobraico was studying for a degree in law enforcement. 

    Funeral services are set to begin at 11 a.m. Friday in the O'Neill Center. Lobraico will be buried at a cemetery in Sherman, where he lived.

    The New Fairfield and Sherman communities held a candlelight vigil for Lobraico on Sunday.

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