Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, is being praised by family, friends and neighbors for his generosity and bravery. Merola was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton, California.
Cheryl Merola, his mother, told the Los Angeles CBS affiliate her son was “kind, loving” and “would give anything to anybody.”
In an on-camera interview with the LA TV station, she recalled Dylan’s last phone message to her: “‘Mom, I won’t be able to talk to you for a little while. We’re being sent to a different location. I love you and I will talk to you as soon as I get home.'”
Los Osos High School, Merola’s alma mater, remembered him before the start of Friday’s football game, the CBS affiliate reported.
U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., whose district includes Rancho Cucamonga, expressed sadness over the death of Merola and noted the loss of two other service members from California’s Inland Empire, Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio and Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco.
He tweeted: “My deepest condolences go out to Lance Corporal Merola’s family and loved ones, and to the families of all of the service members who lost their lives in this attack. My heart is heavy knowing three Inland Empire families are mourning, and I know our community stands with them.”
Joseph Matsuoka, a friend of Dylan Merola, set up a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral expenses, citing the Marine’s bravery.
“Dylan was a beloved son, brother, grandson, great grandson, nephew, a great friend, … who paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the evacuation. Please help us in providing him with the funeral he deserves for serving his country with the highest honor” the page said.
The page, set up Friday with a $15,000 fundraising goal, had received more than $27,000 by Saturday night.