A fallen airman was laid to rest today after being killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan last week.
Friends, family and members of the military gathered to pay their respects and say their final goodbyes to 22-year-old T.J. Lobraico, a staff sergeant in the New York Nair National Guard who died while leading an ambushed patrol on Sept. 5.
He was serving in the security force at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and was on his second tour when he died. Lobraico has previously served in Iraq in 2010 and 2011.
His body was returned home earlier this week, greeted by more than 800 U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard members who traveled to the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Nuwburgh, N.Y. to salute Lobraico's casket.
Lobraico, who lived in Sherman and went to school in New Fairfield, was the point-man for a security team that was attacked by enemy gunmen. He died putting himself between enemy fire and the eight other members of his team.
The funeral was held at Western Connecticut State University, where Lobraico was working toward a degree in law enforcement.
“I know he wanted to be a police officer,” said WCSU professor George Kain. “He would have been a wonderful police officer.”
Kain said Lobraico’s gift of connecting with people was evident in today’s service as “the chaplains characterized that he lay down his life for his team.”
Pallbearers loaded the flag-draped casket into a hearse, flanked by Lobraico’s mother and father, also members of the Air National Guard. Lobraico’s mother, Linda Rohatsch, is a major, and his father, Todd, is a master sergeant.
Todd Lobraico Sr. is a member of the Stamford Police Department, and his fellow officers know how proud he is of his son.
“Todd served in Afghanistan as well, so they had a very close relationship,” said Stamford Police Capt. Tom Wuennemann.
Officers rode motorcycles alongside the hearst as Stamford police gave their salute.
"T.J. was a rock for his team members, a one-man morale agent," Revell told mourners.
In a eulogy, Lobraico’s older sister Jessica remembered “the smile that was absolutely life changing.”
His best friend, Jeff Archer, said, “The best way to honor T.J. is to live, to live long, to live well.”
A candlelight vigil was held on Sept. 11 at the New Fairfield town green to remember Lobraico and mourn his loss.