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Lawrence Marine mourned at Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial

Laurel Bragg pays respects to Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo of Lawrence during a vigil Saturday afternoon at the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial in South Boston. Rosario Pichardo, 25, was one of 13 US service members killed Thursday during a suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

A small group of veterans and Gold Star families gathered at the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial in South Boston Saturday afternoon to honor Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo and the 12 others killed in Thursday’s horrific bombings at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport.

One by one, they walked across the thin panels of stone that cut through the shallow pool of water surrounding the memorial’s obelisk, each laying a white rose at its base.

Some stopped to offer a salute. Others choked back tears as they grappled with the death of the Lawrence resident, memories still fresh in their minds of family members or fellow veterans also lost to war.

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“It’s devastating,” Kerrie Griffin, a veteran of the Air Force, said through welling tears. “It’s absolutely devastating to see what people gave up. This could have been avoided.”

Griffin’s son and nephew both returned from deployments to Afghanistan in recent months.

“They made it back, thank God,” she said. “But what about all of these people, these 13 people who will never come home?”

A wreath honoring Rosario Pichardo was placed at the bottom of the obelisk, 13 small candles flickering behind it. Her name will be added to the memorial’s five glass panels, inscribed with the names of soldiers killed in action following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago next month.

“Whether they’re from Massachusetts or any state, it’s disappointing,” said Mark Cieplinski, who served in the military from 1994 to 2002. “I keep returning to, was it necessary to have this? Was she a necessary loss?


Andrew Brinker can be reached at andrew.brinker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.