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Mokena's 'Great Man', Fallen Soldier Aaron Toppen Laid to Rest

The Mokena community said goodbye to its local hero Tuesday, as PFC Aaron Toppen was laid to rest at St. John Cemetery.

A carriage pulled by a black horse carried PFC Aaron Toppen, 19, to his final resting place at St. John Cemetery in Mokena. | Credit: Cindy Beyer Scalone
A carriage pulled by a black horse carried PFC Aaron Toppen, 19, to his final resting place at St. John Cemetery in Mokena. | Credit: Cindy Beyer Scalone
A community came together to mourn, but also to celebrate the life of Aaron Toppen, a 19-year-old Mokena resident killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan June 9. 

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow addressed a Parkview Christian Church filled with a heartbroken public, eulogizing Toppen as a "great man" and a devoted soldier who proved himself a “quiet professional."

The 2013 graduate of Lincoln-Way East High School was among five American troops killed by an airstrike while on patrol June 9. The air strike was issued after the Taliban attacked his unit. 

Snow vouched that Toppen knew the risks tied to his service, and did not balk at the commitment to defend his country—even if it meant his own life on the line. Toppen did not waiver in his commitment to serve, though struck by the tragic loss of his father just before his scheduled deployment. His deployment was delayed to allow him time to attend the funeral.

A horse-drawn carriage took Toppen to his final resting place at St. John Cemetery, as mourners lined Wolf Road much of the 3.5-mile stretch from Parkview to the cemetery. Flags fluttered as the soldier's remains were carried through his hometown. 

Parkview Pastor Tim Harlow said Toppen's patriotism was "born deep in his soul."

Read more about the impact of Toppen's death on the community:

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