The hearse carrying the coffin of U.S. Navy SEAL Jonathan H. Kaloust made its way on Park Boulevard in Massapequa Park Friday as residents lined both sides of the street to bid farewell to their native son.
Diane Cummings, 42, and her son, Nicholas, 9, waited on the street for more than two hours while the service for Kaloust took place inside Massapequa Funeral Home.
"We're just going to honor him," said Nicholas, who displayed an American flag that was larger than the fourth-grader.
It was important, Diane Cummings said, to show her son the meaning of Memorial Day.
Cummings, who didn't know Kaloust or his family, said if she could talk to his parents, Gary and Irene Kaloust, she'd thank them.
"I'd tell them how proud the whole community is of him and his sacrifice for the country," she said.
Inside the funeral home, more than 200 of Kaloust's friends and family gathered to remember a young man one called a "warrior."
Some mourners laughed and others cried as two of Kaloust's friends shared memories of the sailor who died too young.
Kaloust, 23, a star wrestler at Massapequa High School, was killed May 17 during a training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., when a Humvee overturned, military officials said. The special warfare operator 3rd class died of injuries sustained in the accident, according to Naval Special Warfare Group Two based in Virginia Beach, Va.
The Humvee was part of a convoy on the post. It was unclear what caused it to flip, and an investigation was under way, the military said.
Five other Navy SEALS and two sailors sustained minor injuries in the accident and were released from a hospital, according to a SEAL spokesman.
Friday, people, many carrying American flags, began to show up on Park Boulevard before the funeral service began at 10:30 a.m. When it ended, the crowd stretched three blocks along the main street running through the heart of this South Shore village.
Shopkeepers and employees, including more than half a dozen from June Nails, temporarily put their work on hold and joined the Massapequa High School lacrosse team, members of the North Massapequa Fire Department and others who waited for the funeral procession to pass.
In addition to his parents, Kaloust is survived by a sister, Melanie, of Massapequa, the military said. He was buried at Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn.