Fallen marine comes home to Ocean Co.

MANCHESTER TWP., N.J. - August 17, 2011

He came home for the last time on Wednesday.

The procession from Dover Air Force Base arrived in Manchester Wednesday afternoon, the silver hearse escorted by state and local police and the Patriot Riders bearing the remains of 23 year old Marine Cpl. Nick Ott, a squad leader who was killed in action in Afghanistan last week.

"When I heard it, everything just stopped," said Lenny Lawson. "Tears just started rolling down my eyes."

"I just remember Nick as a real happy, smiley kid. I know him from baseball for about 18 years," said Rachel Ward.

As bagpipes wailed the Marine anthem and an honor guard saluted, Ott's casket was brought in to the Anderson & Campbell Funeral home.

Following behind were his parents and sister who released a statement to Action News calling Nick "a big kid with a big heart", a natural leader who stood by his friends and his beliefs.

"These kids give their lives for our country," said Mike Grassi, who became emotional talking about him.

Ridgeway Road was lined with people. Most of them didn't know Cpl. Ott, but wanted to honor his memory.

"After all, he went there for us, and I feel that I should be there for him now. It's just so sad," said Ann Friscia.

"I feel it's my duty to be here," said Anthony Derrico. "These young men that make the ultimate sacrifice, it breaks my heart."

"He's a soldier. He died for us, so I have to pay my respects," John Puckhaber said.

There was black bunting hanging at the township hall, and Nick Ott's picture and a wreath are lying at the war memorial.

The 2006 Manchester High grad was a 3-sport athlete who joined the Marines a year later, fulfilling a childhood dream.

"He absolutely loved what he did, and I don't think he would regret it a bit, fighting for our country. We thank him," said Matt Webster. "We thank him for everything he did and we're going to miss him."

A viewing for Cpl. Ott will be held on Thursday. His funeral is set for Friday.

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