CRYSTAL LAKE – Residents from across McHenry County turned out Friday to honor Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Antonik and his family as the Marine’s body was escorted by procession to Crystal Lake.
The motorcade from Dupage Airport in West Chicago included Antonik’s family, friends, and members of the U.S. Marines. They were led by Crystal Lake police and firefighters, as well as personnel from other public safety departments. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders accompanied them on motorcycles to Davenport Funeral Home, 419 E. Terra Cotta Ave.
A 2000 graduate of Prairie Ridge High School, Antonik, 29, was killed Sunday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province in Afghanistan.
The procession traveled past Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge high schools. Antonik attended Central before transferring to Prairie Ridge.
A gathering of about 20 people stood outside Prairie Ridge High School to watch.
Jerry Rasmussen of Crystal Lake came with his son, Zack Rasmussen, to pay tribute to Antonik. His other son, Matt Rasmussen, who couldn’t make it Friday, had graduated from Prairie Ridge the same year as Antonik. The two were friends.
“It kind of brings the whole thing home when it’s someone you basically know,” Jerry Rasmussen said.
He added that he remembered Antonik always wanted to serve the country.
“It’s just really sad,” he said.
Britanny Wrzek, 13, of Crystal Lake, held a sign as the procession turned from Walkup Avenue up Dvorak Road toward the school. In the top left corner was a broken heart – blue with white stars on the left, red and white stripes on the right.
“Rest in Peace, Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Antonik,” the sign read.
About 50 people were at the funeral home when the motorcade arrived. Families waved flags or held signs of support.
Sheryl Salmons of Hebron drove to Crystal Lake with her 3-year-old granddaughter Izzy Williams to show their respect for Antonik.
“This is just what you do,” she said. “The Marines do their job; this is our job.”
Antonik was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton in California. He and his wife, Erin, whom he married in December, shared an apartment in California.
Antonik joined the Marine Corps on May 23, 2001, and was trained as a reconnaissance man. He was promoted to staff sergeant Feb. 1, 2009, joining the special ops Sept. 24, 2009. It was Antonik’s third tour overseas after two tours in Iraq.
A memorial fund is being established to honor Antonik through the Force Recon Association. Donations can be made online at www.forcerecon.com or by mail to FRA, P.O. Box 425, Rowe, MA, 01367. The Force Recon Association is a nonprofit organization for Marines, according to its website.
Antonik is survived by his wife; his parents, John and Cindy Antonik; his sister, Jen Bond; his grandmother, Florence Antonik; and several nieces and nephews.
The visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Davenport Family Funeral Home.
A funeral led by the Rev. Kerry Bauman will begin at noon Monday at Evangelical Free Church, 575 E. Crystal Lake Ave. Interment will be private. In a formal processional, police will escort the family to the church and cemetery.
Tentative plans for the procession travel from Evangelical Free Church, at 575 E. Crystal Lake Ave., left on Crystal Lake Avenue, then right on Walkup Avenue, left on Woodstock Street, right on Route 14, and right on Ridgefield Road to Crystal Lake Memorial Park cemetery.
• Northwest Herald reporter Shawn Shinneman contributed to this report.