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The true cost of war hits home for a local family

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Peter Dean
  • 107th Airlift Wing
On June 25 countless family, friends, Patriot Guard Riders and military members gathered at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to pay their final respects to Lance Cpl. Timothy Serwinowski, the areas most recent Afghanistan casualty. "Win" as known to his family and friends entered the Marines after graduating from North Tonawanda High School and spending a year at a local community college. Upon completion of Marine Basic Training he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6Th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, and II Expeditionary Force. From there he would soon find himself on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan. On June 21st while exiting his patrol vehicle in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous areas of that war-torn country, the 21-year-old corporal was targeted by a sniper and shortly there after succumbed to his wounds. The Marine came from a military family dating back to the Vietnam War where his father's cousin Richard Serwinowski served and also paid the ultimate price. The corporal's stepbrother Airman 1st Class David Urban learned of his stepbrothers death, as he was just one day shy of completing his own tour in Iraq. "Tim was thinking of continuing his military career, and he wanted to talk it over with me. He only had one month to go before he came home," said his father Phillip Serwinowski. "Tim loved life, and he was a good man. He could have been an even better man if given the chance," he added. Upon arrive at the Niagara Fall Air Reserve Station; the Marine was unloaded from a private jet by six pole bearers, five Marines and one Airman, his stepbrother Airman 1st Class David Urban, from there the funeral procession transported the Marine to a North Tonawanda Funeral home. The following day the funeral home was filled to capacity and the streets surrounding the home were lined with supporters and mourners. Among the Marines in attendance, were two of his fellow Marines that recently deployed to Afghanistan with him. Lance Corporals Matt McElhinney and Matt Tonstad traveled from North Carolina to offer his family their condolences and pay their friend final respects. 

"We tried to get official duty to come up here but they could only send two people to escort Tim's body, so we took leave on our own," said Tonstad McElhinney was in Tim's platoon for two years, sharing the same patrol duties and the same mud huts that were used as living quarters. 
 "We were always training and stuff. I saw him every day," said McElhinney. "He was a great guy, always making jokes, always laughing," said Tonstad. After the 21-gun-salute funeral, the flag that draped his coffin was presented to his family with these words "On behalf of the president of the United States, the commandant of the Marine Corps and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to country and corps."
 The Marine was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Medal for his heroic duty.