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Community honors Marine declared dead in helicopter crash

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BOILING SPRINGS, Pa. - Hundreds of people brought the community to a standstill Sunday afternoon to honor and pay tribute to a Marine presumed dead after a helicopter crash during a training mission earlier this month in Hawaii.

The community commemorated the life of Sgt. Adam Schoeller, one of 12 Marines declared dead after a five-day search for survivors in the aftermath of the crash.

"He's got so many fond memories here, going to this school, the friends, the parents of friends, they have been out here giving us their support, it's a great place to be," Ralph Schoeller, Adam's father, said. "I'm glad he was part of this community and raised here."

Ralph Schoeller is an Army veteran himself, and knows first-hand the dangers his son would face, whether he was fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan or on the training mission that claimed his life.

His family says they have been touched by the care they have received from friends and neighbors.

"The support, I can't put words to it," he said. "We got back in to Harrisburg airport [Saturday]. I was thinking I was going to have to clean my car off from 30 inches of snow. All done. We walked into our house, full of groceries."

Community members laid wreaths and a color guard lowered the town's flag to half-staff, as fellow veterans also helped to honor one of their own.

"We felt compelled that we had to be here to take part and have something to say and pay final tribute to this young man who did the same thing the rest of us did," Don Geesaman, a commandant with the Marine Corps League, said.

"It means a lot to our family," Ralph Schoeller said. "We have some pain we're carrying, this is going to take some of the hurt away. We appreciate the honoring of our son. Adam was a great kid."

A memorial service is planned for the Carlisle Evangelical Free Church on February 20 at 2 p.m.