By Jake Palmateer
FRANKLIN _ Candles lit in memory of a fallen Marine defied the winter wind Friday night as 150 mourners gathered on an outdoor basketball court at Franklin Central School.
Some softly sobbed as they paid their respects to Cpl. Nick Uzenski's family. Some sang "Amazing Grace" and "God Bless America." Others had never met the Marine, but pledged to help his family in any way they could.
Uzenski, 21, was killed Monday in southern Afghanistan when his reconnaissance unit came under fire from insurgents. Two other marines, Staff Sgt. Matthew N. Ingham, 25, of Altoona, Pa., and Cpl. Jamie R. Lowe, 21, of Johnsonville, Ill., also died.
Uzenski, who graduated from Franklin in 2006, will be buried in Montana, where his father lives, during a full military honor ceremony next week.
But a memorial service featuring an honor guard from the Marine Corps will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Franklin Central School Cafetorium. Uzenski's family is planning to attend.
Alone and in small groups, the mourners began gathering on the court 45 minutes before the vigil began at 7 p.m.
Uzenski's mother, Lisa Uzenski, was not feeling up to attending, said her mother, Audrey Archibald.
"It's been rough, really rough," Archibald said.
Lisa, Archibald and other family members traveled a few day earlier to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where Uzenski's body was flown Thursday.
"It's very heart-wrenching when you see that flag-draped coffin. That's when the reality sets in," Archibald said.
Archibald said the family was treated with respect and courtesy by military officials. All three Marines who died in the attack were flown to Dover on the same day.
Ingham saved the lives of about 12 Marines during the attack when he managed to crawl to a radio and call for air support while wounded, according to media reports.