The body of Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, who was among 13 service members killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, was returned to the Southland Tuesday and carried in a procession to Forest Lawn Covina Hills.

Thousands lined sidewalks and freeway overpasses, many holding American flags, along the route from Ontario International Airport.

“It’s a sad day,” Upland resident Mark Bertone told NBC4. “I have a son who spent eight years of his life in and out of Afghanistan. Part of me feels blessed that I still have him with me.”

Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County, died Aug. 26 in the attack at Kabul Airport that also killed 10 other Marines, a U.S. Navy corpsman and a U.S. Army soldier, along with more than 100 Afghanis.

Two other Southland Marines — Lance Cpl. Kareem Grant Nikoui, 20, of Norco, and Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio — also died in the attack.

“You got these young kids — 19, 20, 21 years old, they show up to work to help over a hundred thousand people escape the tyranny of the Taliban and they’re gone,” Bertone said.

From the airport, the procession traveled:

— east on Mission Boulevard;

— north on Haven Avenue;

— east on Sixth Street;

— north on Milliken Avenue;

— east on Vintage Drive;

— north on Rochester Avenue;

— west on Banyan Street, traveling past Los Osos High School, which Merola attended;

— north on Milliken Avenue;

— west curve onto Wilson Avenue;

— south onto Haven Avenue;

— west on the Foothill (210) Freeway;

— south on the Orange (57) Freeway;

— west on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway, exiting at Via Verde Street; and

— ending at Forest Lawn Covina Hills.

A public funeral service for Merola will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Forest Lawn, followed by a private burial service.

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