-- Though persistent tears blurred her vision, Dorothy Turrisi
stared into the flames of candles surrounding a Tupperware altar
that held photos of her late grandson.
Lance Cpl. Chris Cosgrove, a Marine who was killed Sunday by a
suicide bomber at a checkpoint in Fallujah, Iraq, was "just a great
kid," Turrisi said, her speech interrupted by bursts of emotion.
No matter how many grandkids you have, she said, it is always
hard to lose one -- especially one she was expecting to see before
the month's end.
"We were planning a welcome home party," she said. "Now we're
planning a funeral."
Turrisi was among 70 friends and family members who attended a
candlelight vigil for Cosgrove beneath a wooden gazebo in Black
Brook park in Whippany Thursday night.
Four Marines stood behind the makeshift altar and faced a crowd
whose candles set the gazebo aglow.
Nick Gregory, Chris's neighbor and childhood friend from Cedar
Knolls, organized the event because he wanted to "bring about
memories of a lost friend."
Like the times he and Cosgrove would go paint balling together.
"He was good," he said. "He would be the one to last to the end
and capture the flag."
Cosgrove always had that Marine mindset, his friends said.
Cosgrove, along with Gregory and his two brothers Chris and Matt,
created war movies as kids, and Cosgrove would always be the
"He would do anything," Matt Gregory said. "And whatever he did
he gave 120 percent."
That drive carried over into school and athletics as well, his
friends said. Tom Detrolio, 23, of Whippany, played football with
Cosgrove in high school and said he would always go the extra mile
"He was always the one to volunteer to do something," Detrolio
said, as if he were the captain of the team.
"Emotionally, he was" the captain, Detrolio said.
Friends said it wasn't just the team that he'd do anything for,
it was anyone who needed help.
Kate McArdle of Cedar Knolls remembered how Cosgrove would always
save a seat for her on the bus to school.
"I wasn't the most popular kid in school," she said, "but there
was always a seat waiting for me on that bus."
Cosgrove's family was on their way home from Delaware Thursday
night where the young Marine's body had just been returned by the
military. A relative said the family was sad that they missed the
ceremony, which concluded with a speech by Marine Staff Sgt. Mark
Peer of Montville, a salute to the flag and a rendition of "God
Bless America," sung by all present.
Fran Gellas, Cosgrove's aunt, said she came to the ceremony
because she just "had to be there for Chris." But she understood
that the rest of his immediate family had to be in Delaware --"to
welcome him home."