COLTS NECK – Several hundred people made their way to Colts Neck High School on the overcast morning of July 25 to pay their respects to U.S. Marine Cpl. Daniel I. Baldassare.
Baldassare, 20, was among 15 Marines and one Navy sailor who died when the military plane on which they were traveling crashed in Itta Bena, Miss., on the afternoon of July 10.
“Danny, when I think of you, I cherish the times we laughed together,” said Baldassare’s aunt, Adriana Cordaro. “You made everyone so proud of your accomplishments and you were driven to be the best man you can be. Remember, Daniel is our hero who accomplished so much to make everybody’s life better. Our hero, my nephew, my hero.”
A memorial service for Baldassare was held on the football field where the young man played for the Cougars and from where he graduated high school in 2015.
The memorial service was attended by Baldassare’s family members and friends, and by members of the public who wanted to pay their respects.
Members of the Colts Neck Township Committee, the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, representatives of the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, and emergency services personnel from Farmingdale, Howell, Marlboro, Middletown, Oakhurst and Freehold were in attendance.
In addressing the audience, Colts Neck Mayor Russell Macnow said, “As those of us in civilian life go about our business every day, the men and women of the United States armed forces selflessly put their lives on the line to make sure that we in future generations will have the ability to live our lives free from those that do us harm.
“As Americans, every time we hear of the loss of a service member, we lose a little piece of ourselves. When that loss occurs in your hometown, especially one as small as Colts Neck, that loss is so much more profound,” Macnow said.
Baldassare was to be laid to rest in the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery, North Hanover Township, Burlington County.