A Jan. 8, 2008 file photo of Sgt. Darren Manzella speaking with reporters about serving under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, at the National Press Club in Washington. / J. Scott Applewhite / AP
BROCTON, N.Y. - Heavy clouds hung over and heavy hearts filled St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church in Brocton, as hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to 36-year-old Darren Manzella.
Manzella was a proud soldier, an Army sergeant, who battled for his country, but gained national attention for another fight. It was also a fight that put him at odds with the military.
Sgt. Manzella put a proud face on the move to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He came out on national TV, CBS's 60 Minutes program in 2007. Manzella was found to have violated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and was honorably discharged a few months later.
Manzella made it his mission to lobby Washington to repeal the policy, and in September of 2011, his efforts paid off. Manzella was married in July, where he and his husband lived. It is also where he died. Manzella was the victim of a terrible accident. He was pushing his disabled car off of route I-490 in Pittsford when he was hit by another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tuesday he was laid to rest, with full military honors, at Evergreen Cemetary in his hometown of Portland.