A local hero was remembered for his service to the country and his zest for life on Friday, Aug. 7.
A large crowd of family, friends, military families and Clermont County residents gathered at the Union Township Amphitheater to pay tribute to Marine Corps SSgt. Mark Anthony Wojciechowski.
Wojciechowski died on April 30, 2009, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq as a result of a blast from an improvised explosive device. He served with the USMC explosive ordinance disposal team after reenlisting. He initially joined the Marine Corps in July 2001.
Wojciechowski served with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
He was born March 10, 1984, the son of Mark and Teresa Grose Wojciechowski, his parents met while they were both stationed in California and serving in the U.S. Army.
"Tony came from a family who served our country and he loved our country too," said Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.
She extended sympathy on behalf of Congress to the family in their loss.
Several family members and friends shared their memories of "Tony" including his mother, sister and grandmothers.
"As he was growing up, I told him at every opportunity I had just how proud I was of him and how very much I loved him," said his mother, Teresa Dillinger. "I told him to always reach for the stars and not to settle for anything less. Tony excelled in everything he did and everything he did, he did well."
His parents lived in New Jersey for several years before divorcing. His mother then moved back to Clermont County but she made sure that "Tony" Wojciechowski spent time each summer with his family in New Jersey, keeping close family ties.
"He joined the Marine Corps at age 17 and I had to sign for him. He first served in the infantry and then in special forces but he loved a challenge," said Dillinger. "When the challenge went out for training as an EOD, he accepted. Tony was motivated, he was excelling, he was respected and he reenlisted. It was his career and he loved it."
"His career took him to many places all over the country and around the world," said Dillinger. "In his short life, Tony had been to more places, experienced more exciting things and enjoyed more hobbies and interests and had more enthusiasm and zest for life than anyone I have ever known. He was full of life and wanted to experience all that life had to offer."
"He left behind many memories and mine are golden," said Dillinger. "My life without Tony will never be the same, but life, it just goes on."
Many area people played a part in the celebration. The 4th Marine Division Color Guard posted the colors; State Representative Danny Bubp led the pledge to the flag; Leroy Ellington sang the National Anthem and bagpiper Mike Gregorio played the Marine Hymn.
National recording artist Kenny Welch performed one of Wojciechowski's favorite songs, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" and "God Bless the USA" in honor of Wojciechowski.
As the celebration ended, family members released red, white and blue balloons with personal messages from each of them to "Tony" Wojciechowski.