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'Goodbye, Blaise' - hundreds gather to say farewell to fallen marine

By By EVAN WHITE

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Hundreds gathered at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Rome to attend the funeral of Lance Corporal Blaise Oleski, the Floyd Marine killed in Afghanistan last week.

As taps streamed from bag pipes, teary eyed residents from Oleski's home town of Floyd, nearby Holland Patent where he went to high school, and the City of Rome, all wept through the emotional service.

Father Vincent Long said he recently asked Blaise's family - mother, Theresa; father, Paul; and brother, Bryce - which three words they would like to use to describe their son.

The words were: beauty, goodness and art, for his love for the arts.

Friends, family and former classmates thought highly of Blaise Oleski.

"People always say that when someone passes," said Heather Schwertfeger a former classmate of Oleski's. "They were great, (they) were wonderful, but he truly was a great, amazing person. He just had the whole package. He was kind and caring and intelligent and handsome - and he had everything going for him."

An example of Oleski's compassion could be found in Sherry Hawes-Mayne, the sister of Burlington Flats soldier Corporal Michael Mayne, who died serving in Iraq back in February.

Following her brother's death, Hawes said that Oleski contacted her through myspace.com, offering his condolences. The two kept in touch until recently.

Hawes, who still wears the dog tags with her brother's name stamped on them, said that Oleski's compassion will never be forgotten.

Following the funeral service, Marines delivered a twenty-one gun salute paying tribute to their fallen brother as hundreds stood on the lawn of Fort Stanwix National monument.

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