210 Freeway overpass to be named after Dylan Merola, a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan – San Bernardino Sun

Rancho Cucamonga residents getting off the 210 Freeway will be forever reminded of one of their own who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, seen here while on deployment to the Middle East as part of a special crisis response force, was one of 11 U.S. military service members killed in the August 2021 suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Rex)

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Ryan Merola, 20, was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, 2021, during the rush to evacuate the city after the country fell to the Taliban. In all, more than 183 people were killed and more than 150 injured.

Now, thanks to legislation introduced by state Assemblymember James Ramos, D-Highland, the Haven Avenue overpass over the 210 will bear Merola’s name.

“My family and I are being blessed with the renaming of the Haven overpass,” Merola’s mother, Cheryl Rex, is quoted as saying in a news release issued by Ramos’ office. “We hope that the many people who drive through our hometown will see Dylan’s name and remember him and his unit for the sacrifice they made.”

The cost to create and mount the sign will be covered by donations, according to Ramos’s resolution.

“Young Lance Cpl. Merola paid the ultimate price to fulfill his duty,” Ramos is quoted as saying in the news release from his office. “Dylan was a much loved son, brother, grandson, great-grandson, nephew and friend.”

Merola, along with other service members killed in the airport bombing, was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. The medal recognizes the sacrifice of military personnel “injured or killed by the action of an enemy of the United States.”

The overcrossing location that will bear Merola’s name is fitting: Haven Avenue passes nearby Los Osos High School, which Merola attended. The school plans to erect a monument to fallen military alumni on the campus, with Merola as the first name inscribed on it.

The Chaffey Joint Union High School District is currently working with veterans organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Riders to raise the estimated $60,000 needed to build the memorial.

According to district spokesperson Steve Lambert, the district has raised about $15,000 so far and VFW Post 8680 has raised another $14,000.

“We appreciate the overwhelming generosity of the community and the commitment of the VFW, American Legion and other veterans organizations as we work together to support Dylan’s family and memorialize his sacrifice on behalf of our country,” district Superintendent Mat Holton said in a written statement. “He was a wonderful student, and the entire Chaffey district community misses him dearly.”

Two other service members from the Inland Empire died in the attack in Kabul: Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, of Norco, and Indio resident Cpl. Hunter Lopez.

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