Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Green Beret, Firefighter Laid to Rest

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Green Beret, Firefighter Laid to Rest

Article excerpt

RAMSEY -- The brief but distinguished life of Army Staff Sgt. Timothy McGill was celebrated Friday morning in eulogies that recalled a man with a driving spirit of giving, to his community and his country.

Family, friends, military comrades and fellow firefighters filled St. Paul's R.C. Church to remember the 2001 Ramsey High School graduate and find peace in his passing during a service lasting more than two hours.

The 30-year-old died from wounds sustained from small arms fire while serving in Afghanistan Sept. 21.

"Tim's spirit and generosity, his life, is what we celebrate today," the Rev. John McClone told the crowd, which spilled out front where speakers amplified the service.

"Whether we talk about Tim the fireman ... Tim the Marine ... Tim the member of the National Guard, these things weren't a job to him. They were his vocation in life -- his lifestyle, marked with a generosity of spirit that was evident in the way he lived his life: an example for us to follow."

McGill - who enrolled in the Marines in 2001, served in Iraq in 2005, joined the Rhode Island National Guard in 2008 and earned a place with the Special Forces in 2011 -- was posthumously awarded the bronze star and purple heart.

Members of the military handed the boxed medals to McGill's father, Ray, who was seated in the first pew, along with Tim's mother, Carol, and two sisters, Lindsay and Megan.

McGill was eulogized by his friend and fellow Green Beret, Staff Sgt. John Phelan, and his sisters during a civil ceremony that preceded the Mass.

Phelan, who brought McGill's remains home to his family, said that during Monday's procession through town, he realized "Tim died for all of us."

"Starting today, right now, it's our turn to do something for Tim and his family," Phelan said. "to never forget."

Years from now when the children who stood on Main Street, waving American flags, remember that day and ask who it was for and why, he said, "We will tell them about a real American hero, a patriot, a son. …

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