UNION, NJ – Family and friends of U.S. Marine Sgt. Nilton R. Cacoilo march every year in Union's Veterans Alliance Memorial Day Parade to honor their fallen loved one. 

After this years’ parade and ceremony, members of the Knights of Columbus presented Cacoilo’s family with an Honor and Remember Flag, embroidered with his name and date of death. 

Accepting the flag and an accompanying plaque, Cacoilo’s mother, Lurdes Cacoilo said she was very thankful that people remember Nilton’s name.  “I never thought he’d be honored like this,” she said.  “This is a big surprise and we’re very happy to receive it.”

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The Honor and Remember organization’s mission is to honor and remember every American fallen service member and recognize the enduring sacrifice of every family.

The Honor and Remember Flag is a visible public reminder to all Americans of the lives given to preserve freedom and a national symbol of appreciation recognizing the sacrifice of generations of fallen hero families.

Lurdes Cacoilo, along with Nilton’s father Jose and brother Marcio, said they take Nilton’s military cap with them to these events.  Today, she said, they found part of a prayer card he had placed inside the flap.  “In all these years, we never saw this,” she said.  “God is blessing all of us.  I feel warm inside.”

According to the application submitted for the Honor and Remember Flag, Cacoilo joined the U.S. Marine Corp. right out of high school and took great pride in being a Marine and helping his country.  He received training as a Helicopter Mechanic and a Hazardous Material/Waste Responder and served two tours in Iraq. 

“Nilton was a very inquisitive individual, fascinated with learning, and he utilized every moment in the service to learn as much as he could about every subject he was exposed to,” read part of the application.  “He had a deep love for nature and was an environmental enthusiast all his life.  The training he received in the service as a Hazardous Material/Waste Responder led to his decision to pursue a career as an Environmental Engineer upon his return to civilian life.”

“Although his life was cut short by a devastating illness caused by exposure to toxic materials while serving in Iraq, Nilton will never be forgotten as he was a shining example of all that is good in mankind.   A born leader, all looked up to him, not because of his height, but because of the man he was.  He had an infectious laugh, a warm and giving heart, enthusiastic to make the world a better place and he succeeded in doing that.”

Cacoilo died March 11, 2010, a day before his 25th birthday.  He died at Hackensack Hospital of acute myeloid leukemia with leukemia cutis, caused by exposure to toxic materials while serving in Iraq.

The Honor and Remember flag's design is distinctive.  Each detail symbolizes an important part of the overall meaning of the flag's message:

The Red represents the blood spilled by brave men and women in America's military who willingly gave their lives for the country to remain free.

The Blue Star represents active service in military conflict.

The White Border recognizes the purity of sacrifice.

The Gold Star signifies the ultimate sacrifice of a warrior in active service who will not return home.

The Folded Flag signifies the final tribute to an individual life that a family sacrificed and gave to the nation.

The Flame is an eternal reminder of the spirit that has departed this life, but burns on in the memory of all who knew and loved the fallen hero.