82ºF

Hundreds remember fallen Navy surgeon at Fleming Island funeral

Lt. James Mazzuchelli laid to rest at Jacksonville National Cemetery

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – Hundreds of people packed a Fleming Island Catholic church Friday morning to honor the life and service of Lt. James Mazzuchelli, a Navy flight surgeon who was killed last month in a helicopter accident in California.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was among those who honored Mazzuchelli's memory Friday morning. The Navy doctor was laid to rest at Jacksonville National Cemetery, about an hour's drive from the church.

Family and friends shared stories of Mazzuchelli's life and said they were heartbroken to hear of the accident that cut his life so short.

Mazzuchelli, 32, was struck by the tail rotor of a helicopter at Camp Pendleton last month. He was taken to Scripps LaJolla Medical Facility in critical condition and died at the hospital.

His family said his mission of service continued even after his death with the donation of his organs.

Mazzuchelli grew up in Clay County and joined the Navy in 2010.

Both his father and stepmother served in the Navy.

Family friend Lea Long said Mazzuchelli used to come to her house and was a close friend of her daughter. She said his death has been hard to take.

"He was a wonderful kid and great man and it's very hard for everybody," Long said.

Maureen St. John, another family friend, said it's hard to lose a child.

"So hard to lose a young man who really excelled in what he focused on doing," she said. "He really had a life set out for him."

Clay County residents showed up en masse last week to support Mazzuchelli's family, lining U.S. 17 for a processional as Mazzuchelli's remains were escorted to Green Cove Springs by the Clay County Sheriff's Office and Clay County Fire Rescue Department.


About the Author: