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Community honors the life of Charleston marine, Purple Heart rec - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Community honors the life of Charleston marine, Purple Heart recipient

Nick Riccio Nick Riccio
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

A community honored the life of a Charleston marine who died at his home in West Ashley on Tuesday.

Former Marine Lance Cpl. Francis Nicholas Riccio was only 29-years-old when he died, but he has left a legacy.

Riccio was a hero.

"He's done so much for us," said Karen Collins, a Patriot Guard Rider. 

On Friday, friends, family, and an entire community, gathered to honor the life of a man willing to sacrifice his.

Born July 4, 1985, Nick graduated from West Ashley High School before enlisting in the Marines.

In 2004, while on tour in Iraq, a mortar round left him with a massive brain injury.

"We hunched down, shooting out security patrols and started taking incoming fire," Nick said in an archived interview. "I'd say five or six mortars hit around us. One hitting a tree above us, injuring five other Marines, including myself. Me, the most severe."

For three months, Nick was missing a part of his skull. Doctors put it in his abdomen, so it could heal. 

Then put it back, during a three hour surgery.

As if his story of survival wasn't amazing enough, Nick went on to become one of the youngest recipients of the Purple Heart.

"A Purple Heart recipient at the age of 19, can you imagine?" Collins said.

Nick's list of honors, nearly as long as the line of people who love him; Nick was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon among many other commendations.

On Friday, even more came to salute the life and sacrifice of a real American hero.

"You don't have to go in a comic book to see them," Collins said."They're here with us."

Riccio leaves behind his wife, Ashley, and their two children.

Memorial donations can be made in his honor to the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

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