The body of Lance Corporal Nickolas Daniels passed by his elementary school and his home before being buried at Elmwood cemetery in west suburban River Grove.
The roar of motorcycles and the wail of sirens marked Daniels' homecoming
"Nick was a very happy fun, loving young man, very driven and dedicated, very goal oriented," said Rob Curcio, family spokesperson.
Monday morning, the family of the 25-year-old Marine was joined by a community of the grief stricken to honor his memory. Daniels died last week while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. Master Sergeant Rick Hernandez led his honor guard.
"We're going to do for Nick what I know Nick would do for me. That's what I'm going to do for Nick today," said Sergeant Hernandez.
While Nick's family struggles to accept his sudden loss, so do the young men he mentored while coaching football at his alma mater, St. Patrick High School.
"We're going to be here in the back for the procession and then when he walks out, we're all going to take a knee to remember nick and how he was our coach," said Ryan Tentler, co-captain football team.
"It hit us pretty hard just because he was a shamrock. Most of us knew him because we all played football. He was a great coach," said Zeck Jankeiwicz, co-captain football team.
Relatives say the all conference football player joined the service after graduating from high school in 2004. He was assigned to the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion. Daniels had only been in country six weeks before his death and was planning to marry his fiancee when he returned home.
"For me personally, it's very difficult to wrap my mind around. But it's so much more about him and what a special person he was," said Timothy Woods, friend and co-worker.
Riders with the Warrior Watch and the Patriot Guard helped to lead a procession of mourners. It was then that students at his old high school, which his younger brother still attends, showed their respect.
"As soon as we found out about this, the students wanted to do something," said Megan Ivers, procession organizer.
As family friends and a community escorted Nickolas Daniels to his final resting place, those who feel the loss say their pain is only lessened knowing how many hearts he touched.
"In many ways that is the essence of what we do here at St. Pat's, we touch hearts and he has touched our hearts," said Richard Raho, St. Patrick High School minister.
St. Patrick High School will hold a memorial service for Daniels.