Funeral Arrangements Set for Departed Soldier McConnell
People can pay respects in both of the Afghanistan veteran's hometowns, Parsippany and North Caldwell.
The final journey for U.S. Army Sgt. Derek McConnell is set.
McConnell, who lived in Parsippany, died Monday of causes yet to be announced.
A viewing for the soldier will be held Monday, April 1, from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Par-Troy Funeral Home, 92 Parsippany Road, according to his mother, Siobhan Fuller-McConnell.
A funeral mass will be held in North Caldwell Tuesday, April 2 at 11 a.m., where he lived as a youth, at Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church, 359 Central Ave.
McConnell, 23, was wounded in Afghanistan in July 2011, after being hit by an improvised explosive device while patrolling in the Zahri District in Kandahar. He lost his legs and suffered other serious injuries that kept him in recovery in Maryland for months. During that time, he withstood nearly three dozen surgeries. By the end of his life, he had been rehabilitated to the point where he could stand on crutches.
He returned to his Parsippany home to a hero’s welcome in late 2012.
By his side throughout his treatment were his mother and his high school sweetheart, Krystina Dressler of Fairfield. McConnell and Dressler were to have been married shortly; the couple competed against other military couples in "Operation Tie the Knot" and won a dream wedding in the online giveaway. In early March, Dressler posted about finding her wedding dress on her blog, Something That Can Never Be Stopped: Us.
Fuller-McConnell told Patch that a separate military ceremony will be held for her son as well, however, she added that details cannot be shared.
Burial will take place, not at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to the grieving mother's post on the Team Derek Facebook page, but at the Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington.
As Fuller-McConnell put it, "He wanted to come home."
In lieu of flowers, she said her son "would have liked donations in his name to the following non-profits who gave him so much love and support":