When the doors first opened, the line wrapped around the building, and it took more than eight hours for friends, family and even strangers to say goodbye to PFC Michael DeMarsico of North Adams, Massachusetts.
Midway through the celebration of the soldier's life, FOX23 News met several of DeMarsico's football buddies.
From youth football leagues, all the way through middle and high school, this group of three young men say they played on the field with 'Mike' their entire lives.
They say, together on the field, they were a force to be reckoned with, but now that there's a massive void in their defensive line they're left only with memories.
One by one, these lifelong friends spent about 20 minutes sharing stories about DeMarsico's winning sense of humor, positive leadership, and even his sharp dress style.
They say DeMarsico could almost always be found in a collared Polo shirt.
DeMarsico's High School Football Running Back Chris Hilchey flew in all the way from North Carolina to attend the services.
Hilchey said, "I had gotten the call from my mom at like 4:30 in the morning, saying to me that mike had passed away and I just remember … I couldn't deal with it because I'm very close friends with Mike."
And that short phone call would change Hilchey's life forever, as well as the lives of so many other football teammates DeMarsico has played with and mentored over the years.
Steven Barbeau was one year behind DeMarsico in school.
He said, "I looked up to him. He was a big role model he did a lot for everyone. I wanted to be like him, because he was aggressive."
A somber Jesse Boland said, "I played football with him. He's a great athlete, had a great head on his shoulders, just a good minded, good hearted fella. It's just too bad 'cuz, he's part of us, you know? Part of brotherhood, part of the family (sighs)."
Hilchey said, "My best memories with Mike are definitely football. Mike was a very good linebacker. The kid knew the game better than anybody else did, when I was on the field with him, he was always aware of his surroundings and knew how to come up and make the play."
Then, mid thought, DeMarsico's friend abruptly paused, the gravity of the situation suddenly becoming more real to him.
Choking back tears Hilchey said, "I miss that kid with all my heart right now, and just inside (the funeral home), I couldn't even get up there and get on both knees (to say goodbye). I just couldn't."
DeMarsico's friends say they're proud to see so many parts of the city of North Adams ablaze with patriotism.
Even the house across the street from the funeral home was covered with red white and blue, as flags lined the entire all-American white picket fence.
Boland said, "He did his job. He sacrificed what he did and loved for his country and us, so all the respect goes to him."
And it wasn't just friends who came out to DeMarsico's wake to support the soldier's family, and honor to his life.
From under his black beret, and wearing his dress greens, Retired U.S. Army SPC Alan Richards said, "I don't know Michael, but he's a hometown hero, and I'm paying tribute to a fallen comrade. We're all brothers in arms, and Michael made the ultimate sacrifice I'm very proud of him."
Barbeau said, "I'm so proud of him doing this for us. I don't know what else to say. I just wish it wasn't him."
Hilchey said, "He always cared about everybody else, before he did himself and that's a true hero right there, when you're on the front line, you don't care about yourself, you care about protecting the people that are behind you. I know that's what he did."
The fallen soldier's football friends say they take some comfort in knowing that DeMarsico was 'happy' when he died.
They say Michael was always involved in everything, living life to the fullest, and being as social as a person can be.
DeMarsico's funeral is on Saturday at 11 a.m., at the First Baptist Church of North Adams.
Hundreds of flag flying Patriot Guard riders are planning to attend.