Massachusetts Pays Tribute to Marine Johanny Rosario Pichardo

Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo BELatina Latinx
Photo released by the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade/U.S. Marines.

A “selfless Marine” and “steady force for her family.” That’s how colleagues and loved ones describe Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, who at just 25 years old, lost her life in last week’s airport attack in Afghanistan.

Rosario, a native of Lawrence, Massachusetts, was one of 13 U.S. service victims providing security and conducting searches at Kabul’s international airport as thousands of people attempted to flee the country.

Now, Rosario’s loved ones are “left shattered and lost,” according to organizers of a GoFundMe fundraiser for the 25-year-old’s proud Dominican family.

“Besides being a selfless Marine helping desperate people fleeing away from a life under the Taliban, Sgt. Johanny held the torch for her family in Lawrence, Massachusetts,” wrote the organizers. “She was a steady force that the family looked up to for strength and moral support.”

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Intervention Team, Johanny Rosario graduated from Lawrence High School and attended Bridgewater State University, CBS Boston reported.

Gov. Charlie Baker called Rosario, 25, who was seven years into her first deployment to Afghanistan when she was just 18, “a Massachusetts hero who has gone too soon.”

Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez issued a statement saying he was “heartbroken” at the loss of “a daughter of our city.” Her family asked for privacy “and that their loved one be recognized as the hero that she was,” he said.

Both U.S. Senators from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey praised Rosario and offered their condolences to her family.

Her “courage saved thousands of lives, and her selfless service represents the best of our country,” Warren tweeted. “My heart aches for her loved ones.”

Capt. Austin Keeley, Rosario’s officer in charge before she deployed to the Middle East, said Rosario was fiercely proud of her heritage as a Dominican-American.

“She wanted to set a good example for her siblings and niece and show that hard work would lead to success… Rosie was so good that we never doubted her,” Keeley wrote on his personal social media pages. “She received not one, but two medals during the 15-months we worked together for her exceptional performance.”

Her family is “heartbroken and lost,” according to organizers of a GoFundMe fundraiser to help Rosario’s family.

“Besides being a selfless Marine helping desperate people fleeing away from a life under the Taliban, Sgt. Johanny held the torch for her family in Lawrence, Massachusetts,” wrote the organizers. “She was a steady force that the family looked up to for strength and moral support.

The organizer wrote that they work with Rosario’s younger sister, who at 21 now helps support her mother alone.

As of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the fundraiser had already reached more than $22,000 in donations from more than 400 donors, surpassing the initial goal of $20,000.