If you say the word “hero” in Elk County, many will respond with the name, Todd Parisi.
“He never considered himself the hero. He just wanted to help people,” says Todd’s father, Louis Parisi.
Parisi died last Thursday after a battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Thursday, the room at Sacred Heart in St Marys was packed with those who came to pay their last respects to the veteran. Parisi dedicated his life to the country and the St Marys Community.
Retired Marine Sergeant Troy Schielein flew in from Michigan to be there one more time for Parisi. He says his military brother’s personality was contagious, “he electrified every room and fired up every person with compassion a love and motivation,” says Schielein.
Parisi’s father fought through the pain, to deliver a speech no father ever should. “I’m going to miss my guy so much and I love him with all my heart and I always will,” says Louis.
There were laughs, tears and the sound of ‘Oorah’ from fellow Marines commemorating the life of the sergeant major gone too soon. “I think no one will ever match the Marine Todd Parisi was, is and will forever be,” adds Schielein.
Bright yellow shirts stood out in the crowd as a gesture to Team Spartan. Parisi gathered more than 300 children of all different backgrounds to let them know they are worthy of respect.
The youth group says it’s not sure what the future holds, but volunteers hope to keep it ongoing to the children. “He was the most motivating person I’ve ever met in my life by far. He’s done more for this community in the short time he’s been back in a year and a half or so than I’ can remember anyone in my 50 years of living on this earth,” says Mike Wolfel.
Many say the legacy Parisi leaves behind will never be diminished. “The shock and awe Todd parisi brought to the world we will try to match, but that’s impossible,” says Schielein.
Parisi’s goal was to leave the community better than he found it and anyone there Thursday will say he did just that.
Thursday a full military service was held with a 21 gun salute and taps. He will be laid to rest alongside those who gave their life to service at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.