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LCpl Nikolas Schiavoni

LCpl Nikolas Schiavoni, his lovely bride Gina, and grandfather
Fair Winds and Following Seas!

Haverhill News
A final goodbye

By Anita Fritz
Staff Writer

HAVERHILL — ''Nicky, I love you and goodbye.''

Vanessa Schiavoni and more than 200 others said a final farewell yesterday to her brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Nickolas Schiavoni, who was laid to rest in his hometown.

''He was my big brother and the world's best hero,'' she said, fighting back tears as her voice cracked at a Mass in St. James Church. ''My big brother Nicky served his country and his family the way a brother, son, father, husband and soldier should.''

Schiavoni, 26, was killed Nov. 15 during an attack by a suicide bomber while serving a second tour of duty in Iraq. He received the Purple Heart after shrapnel lodged in his arm during his first six-month deployment.

Schiavoni's wife, Gina, stood between his mother, Stephany Kern, and his sister at St. James Cemetery, holding tight to the two as prayers were said over his gray casket.

Mourners fell silent while Marines folded three flags — one for Gina Schiavoni, one for Schiavoni's mother and one for his father, David Schiavoni. A gun salute honored the Marine lance corporal and taps was sounded before the crowd dispersed.

Gina Schiavoni unsuccessfully fought back tears behind her dark glasses and placed a red rose on her husband's casket.

The crisp, sunny morning began with mourners paying their respects at the funeral home on Kenoza Avenue. American flags lined the sidewalk — a solemn reminder of why Schiavoni died.

As people left the funeral home for the church, silence cut through the brisk fall air. Only a few sniffles could be heard as the temperature rose to 37 degrees. State and local police escorted the hearse and family limousines to the church. Six Marines carried Schiavoni's casket into St. James; six more stood at the entrance at attention when they passed.

A photograph of Schiavoni in his Marine uniform sat above the casket during the church service, during which ''Amazing Grace'' and ''America'' were sung.

The Haverhill native was the father of Marissa, 4, and Alex, 3. He and his wife lived with their children at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

Schiavoni attended Richard Milburne High School, an alternative school that has since closed, and received his diploma from Haverhill High in 1997. He joined the Marines at the age of 20.

Photo - The casket of 26-year-old Lance Corporal Nickolas K. Schiavoni is carried out of St. James Church in Haverhill after his funeral on Saturday morning.


Fallen marine returned to Iraq 'for his country'

By Shawn Boburg
Staff Writer

HAVERHILL — Fresh from a six-month deployment in Iraq during which he won a Purple Heart Medal, a 25-year-old Nickolas Schiavoni sat on the couch in his uncle's Methuen home one year ago and told him of the horrors of war.

"That tour was tough on him," James Schiavoni, a Vietnam veteran. "But the second one was tougher because you don't really want to go, even though you know you have to for yourself and for your country."

Schiavoni, a lance corporal in the Marines and a father of two, was killed in a suicide car bombing Tuesday while on a mission to help another group of soldiers in distress in Al Karmah, on the outskirts of Fallujah.

Schiavoni was the second Marine from Haverhill to be killed in Iraq. Lance Cpl. Dimitrios Gavriel was killed outside Fallujah on Nov. 19, 2004.

Looking for a life path shortly after graduating from Haverhill High in 1997, Schiavoni joined the Marines at age 20. After his first deployment, he volunteered for a second tour, which he was serving when he was killed.

"The kid was scared this time," said his father, David Schiavoni, formerly of Haverhill and now of Ware. "He was burying his friends ... They were getting buried all around him."

He was due to return home in February.

The family plans to hold a funeral service in Haverhill when Schiavoni's body is returned, which should be in about 10 days, family members said. Funeral plans are still incomplete because the family does not know exactly when the military will return the body.

Schiavoni earned a Purple Heart on his first deployment last September when a bomb exploded near him and sent shrapnel into his elbow.

His fatherremembers his son smiling earlier this year and saying nonchalantly: "Hey, dad, I get free license plates for the rest of my life."

"I said, 'Yeah, but you put your life on the line for that,'" he said, breaking into tears. "The poor kid."

Schiavoni lived at Camp Lejeune, N.C., with his wife, Gina Howes Schiavoni, a Haverhill native, and their two children, Marissa, 5, and Alex, 3.

Relatives and friends recalled Schiavoni as a polite and quiet man whose life revolved around his family.

"He was just such a good kid," said his grandfather, David J. Swartz, 74, a local attorney who was elected to the Haverhill City Council last week. "He was a typical young man of that age. He had begun to mature."

Schiavoni's uncle, Christopher Swartz, said he kept a picture of Schiavoni taken on the day he was married tucked in the visor of his car.

"I keep it in my car so I can get a good look at it every time I open my visor," Christopher Swartz said. "He was a wonderful, wonderful boy."

Swartz said he was always close to Schiavoni, but their relationship deepened when Schiavoni came to him for advice about joining the military. Swartz served four years in the military.

Schiavoni had his first child when he was 20, Swartz said, and he was concerned about the best way to provide for his family, a concern that impressed Swartz in such a young father.

Recently, Swartz and his brother-in-law had to coax Schiavoni away from his wife for a men's night out when the family visited Haverhill, Swartz said.

Schiavoni was drawn to the Marines by the quality of education for young children available on military bases as well as by his desire to serve his country, Swartz said.

Schiavoni was always quiet and shy, Swartz said. Those qualities didn't change after he began his Marine training. But he did develop more confidence, a way of looking people in the eye when he shook hands, of speaking to his friends and family, that impressed people who had known him before.

Acting School Superintendent Gerald Quatrale remembered Schiavoni from Whittier Middle School, where Quatrale was the principal during the three years Schiavoni was a student.

"I can still see his face," Quatrale said. "When my secretary told me he had been killed, I immediately got an image of him."

Quatrale said Schiavoni was shy and retiring when he entered the school as a sixth-grader, keeping mainly to a small circle of friends. By the time he finished eighth grade, the boy had "blossomed," Quatrale said, becoming more verbal and involved in school activities.

Schiavoni received a diploma from Haverhill High School upon his graduation from Richard Milburne High School, an alternative school that has since closed.

PHOTO: Marine Lance Cpl. Nickolas Schiavoni stands between his wife, Gina Howes Schiavoni, and grandfather, recently elected City Councilor David J. Swartz. Nickolas Schiavoni was killed by a suicide car bomb in Iraq, leaving behind his wife and two children, Marissa, 5, and Alex, 3

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