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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For 24-year-old Staff Sergeant Jason McClary, of Export, this was his first stop on his final journey.
McClary is one of four servicemen killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan late last month
After a plane carrying McClary’s casket touched down in Pittsburgh around 6 o’clock Wednesday evening, escorted by state and local police, and the motorcycle Patriot Guard Riders, the Westmoreland County native was brought to the Jobe Funeral Home in Monroeville.
Jules Shubuck, a ride captain with the Patriot Guard, said he’s been involved in more than a dozen escorts.
“It doesn’t get any easier, not at all. As we say, we stand for those who stood for us. It is a total honor and a privilege to be here with this family and to let them know that they’re not alone going through this process,” Shubuck said.
Watch Pam Surano’s report —
Family members said all Jason ever wanted to do was to join the Army. He’s the recipient of two Purple Hearts and three Army commendation medals.
McClary’s body will be at the funeral home until Monday. Because of large crowds anticipated, it will then be taken to the Cornerstone Ministries Church in Export for visitation on Monday, with his funeral at the church on Tuesday.
His mother, Jo Lynn Maiolie, said he overcome some minor health issues before joining the Army.
“He always wore Army shirts and he worked hard to go to the Army. There was a few things that were stopping him from going to the Army. I kept praying, OK, that’s a good sign, so he won’t go. He overcame it. So, the next thing, he overcame that too,” Maiolie said.
McClary enlisted in the Army several times but was rejected twice for medical reasons, but he pressed on until he made it.
“He went straight for infantry. He said, mom, I want to be on the front lines. I want to see all the action,” Maiolie said.
His zest for all things action created a bond between him and his stepdad, Ryan Maiolie.
“He gave his all in what he did,” Ryan said.
McClary’s dreams would become reality. For four and a half years, the Export, Westmoreland County, son would go on to make the community proud. He was first deployed to Iraq and then Afghanistan. He earned two Purple Hearts and three Army Commendation medals.
And then came the last time they spoke before Thanksgiving.
“When he would call me, my whole world stopped. Everything was about him,” Jo Lynn said.
Two days later, they received word a bomb hit his armored vehicle.
“He was the driver and he got the full blast. And I just took a deep breathe and fell to the floor and started crying,” Jo Lynn said.
All the happiness and pride left a shock too painful for words.
“I’m quite numb. I didn’t get to see him. I still haven’t gotten to see him, so I really don’t have closure. I’ve been mourning him since the day he left,” Jo Lynn said.
We are told Staff Sergeant Jason McClary will be buried at National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.