PORT HENRY — As the hearse carrying Staff Sgt. Dain Venne’s casket passed Moriah Central School on Tuesday afternoon, the entire football team stood on the lawn, holding their helmets aloft as a show of respect.
The 29-year-old Port Henry native, who had played football as a student and had been a volunteer coach there, was killed in action on Nov. 3 in Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device went off near his Humvee.
Hundreds of mourners came to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Tuesday to bid farewell to the U.S. Army Reserve staff sergeant at his funeral.
The Rev. Albert Hauser celebrated the funeral Mass, praising Venne for his humility and compas-sion for others.
GIANT FLAG WAVED
The crowd outside St. Patrick’s was estimated at about 500 people, many of them soldiers, veterans, firefighters and law-enforcement personnel, along with members of the community.
So many attended the funeral that an overflow area was set up at Lake Champlain Bible Fellowship two blocks away, and a closed-circuit television feed transmitted the Mass live from St. Patrick’s. About 250 people were in the church.
Venne was remembered as a warm and kind individual who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
“Dain was a wonderful young man,” Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said before entering the church. “This is a terrible tragedy for his family and for the community. Everyone is pulling together, though. The town is like a family when something like this happens.”
On Main Street during the funeral, a giant American flag flew from the extended ladder of the MacBoston 18 truck from Washington County, a memorial vehicle used to give tribute to fallen firefighters.
FULL MILITARY HONORS
Friends said Venne enjoyed hunting and fishing and was a motorcycle enthusiast who encouraged others to take up the sport.