Memorial service held for fallen Marine from Gaston Co. - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Memorial service held for fallen Marine from Gaston Co.

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Lance Corporal Nicholas S. O'Brien of Stanley died Thursday, June 9. Lance Corporal Nicholas S. O'Brien of Stanley died Thursday, June 9.
The processes ion gets underway around 1:30 pm on Monday. The processes ion gets underway around 1:30 pm on Monday.
Photo source: Facebook Photo source: Facebook
Photo source: Sanctuary of Mary Photo source: Sanctuary of Mary

GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV & AP) - A memorial service and a procession was held Monday afternoon to honor a Gaston County Marine who was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Nicholas S. O'Brien of Stanley, NC, died Thursday, June 9, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province. His friends and family called him "Nic."

The 21-year-old Marine was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, IMarine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

Related article: Controversial church group plans to protest memorial service

A memorial service was held at 2 p.m. on Monday at First Assembly of God on South Myrtle School Road in Gastonia.

Prior to the service, O'Brien's body was flown to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and was escorted to the church by various law enforcement agencies as well as the Patriot Guard Riders.

The procession departed from Wilson Air Center shortly after 1 p.m. The procession traveled down Wilkinson Boulevard, Highway 74, and continue onto South Myrtle School Road. (Click in our Video Gallery on the right to see the procession leaving Wilson Air Center.)

O'Brien will be buried in a 9 a.m. service at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, June 28.

His father, Richard, said O'Brien was a talented high school baseball player who was offered college scholarships to continue playing. He said his son decided when he was about 15 years old to join the Marine Corps.

O'Brien entered active duty during the fall of 2009, and shipped to Afghanistan in March.

According to a blog on the Sanctuary of Mary website, O'Brien told his family in March 2011, "If something happens..., don't cry over me because this is what I want to be doing."

O'Brien celebrated his 21st birthday about three weeks ago.

He was a 2008 graduate of East Gaston High School in Mt. Holly.

Chad Owens was O'Brien's Algebra teacher and baseball coach.

"He was confident and sure of himself as a student and as a athlete," Owens said. "He won the math award during the 2006-'07 school year, he was a very diligent student and out on the field."

Owens said he maintained frequent contact with O'Brien since he graduated from school and deployed.

"I am proud of his service to our country and having been a part of his life and his family's life during the past few years," Owens said. "He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country."

O'Brien is survived by his parents and his sister, Haley.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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