Friends, family say goodbye to fallen soldier with Suncoast ties
SARASOTA - The loved ones of 33-year-old U.S. Army SPC Aaron E. Mastrorio poured into Sarasota National Cemetery Friday.
His wife, Jenn, is now clinging to his memory after her husband died from a major heart attack during a training exercise at Fort Bragg Nov. 12.
Aaron's father, Ed, says his son loved being a soldier.
“He didn’t do it until later in life, but he told me it was something he had to do, and if he didn’t do it, he would've regretted it,” Mastrorio said.
From that point on, he says everyone stood behind his son, including U.S. Army PFC Justin Russell.
"...the most driven, ambitious, friendliest, kindest person you could even imagine,” Russell said.
He says Aaron's warmth was contagious, from the moment they met at the recruiting office.
They enlisted together in a 'buddy program,' and Russell says it was the best decision he’s ever made.
“Aaron was the type of guy that, no matter what mood you were in, you’d call him and you just instantly felt better," Russell said. "He had some witty joke or some remark that just made you think that what you’re going through doesn’t really matter in retrospect of life.”
Ed Mastrorio says a blessing in the tragedy is his son died doing what he loved.
He shared with SNN a poem he wrote the morning of the interment:
I buried my son today. He was a man; he was a soldier.
I buried my son today. He was a brother; he was a husband.
I buried my son today. He was a friend; he was a mentor.
I buried my son today. He was my little boy; he was my hero; he is my angel.
Aaron’s family started a GoFundMe to create a scholarship in his honor for students interested in pursuing a military career. To donate, click here.