- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

CORAM, N.Y. (AP) - Mourners packed a Long Island church on Saturday to pay tribute to an Air National Guard member killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan.

Bagpipers led the funeral procession for Sgt. Louis Bonacasa at New Beginnings Christian Center in Coram, Newsday reported.

Bonacasa, 31, of Coram, died Dec. 21 with five other members of the Guard’s 105th Base Defense Squadron when a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into their patrol near Bagram Air Base.

Members of the New York Police Department and Patriot Guard Riders saluted as the hearse arrived. Six pallbearers, including Bonacasa’s brother, Vincent, carried his coffin, which was draped with an American flag. The song “Proud to Be An American” played on loudspeakers outside the church.

Bonacasa leaves a wife of 11 years, Deborah, and a 5-year-old daughter, Lilianna.

“He loved life and wanted to live each day of that to the fullest,” Deborah Bonacasa told mourners, the Daily News of New York reported.

She said the slain airman was known as “a bulldog” but had a fun-loving side that few knew. “He knew how to shake that booty.”

Their daughter briefly took the microphone and said, “I’m going to miss painting your nails.”

Bonacasa enlisted in the Air Force two days after graduating from Newfield High School in Selden in 2002. His unit arrived in Afghanistan in October in the middle of Bonacasa’s fourth tour of duty.

Bonacasa’s roommate, Sgt. Joseph Lemm, an NYPD detective, also died in the attack. Lemm’s funeral was held Wednesday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.


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