NEW YORK, NY, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, B CO, 1ST BN, 8TH MAR, (RCT-7, 1ST MAR DIV), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC FALLUJAH, IRAQ 11/19/2004
The parents of a Haverhill Marine killed in Fallujah last week are overcome with sadness, but they find solace knowing he lived a life of noble ideals and selfless devotion to country.
“We grieve his passing,” said Chris Gavriel, father of Lance Corporal Dimitrios Gavriel. “We grieve his loss. We are not going to physically see him again, but he put his life on the line when most of us would have run away. We realize how noble he was. It is the only comfort we have. We lost a great kid.”
Gavriel, 29, a Brown University graduate who walked away from a lucrative career on Wall Street to avenge the deaths of friends lost on Sept. 11, 2001, could not be swayed from putting his comfortable life aside to risk losing it in the service of his country.
“If his life can inspire other young men to follow suit, to believe in their ideals, to recognize there is more to life than getting a job, than making a living, I think our society can be better off,” said the father.
“That’s the legacy he leaves, and that’s the legacy I strongly suggest he lived by.”
Gavriel, a bull of a man who was a state champion heavyweight wrestler at Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow, N.H., before wrestling at Brown, shed 40 pounds from his 6-feet-1-inch, 270-pound frame and overcame knee and ankle injuries in order to enlist in the Marine Corps more than a year ago.
Sent to Iraq in June for a seven-month deployment, his parents didn’t learn he had been wounded in action until two weeks ago when a Marine officer telephoned to tell them he was going to be awarded the Purple Heart.
Telling his parents only that he had hurt his ankle, Gavriel rejoined his unit and was killed by an explosion during the Fallujah fighting Thursday. His parents last spoke to him a week before his death.
“He said everything’s fine, I can’t talk much because of security. But we were very concerned about his safety,” said his mother, Penelope Gavriel.
Gavriel’s parents and youngest sister, Christina, 27, are coping with their grief through the immense pride they feel for their fallen son and brother. They have only recently come across journals and poems he wrote in the weeks and months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that he witnessed while working in Manhattan for companies such as Paine Webber, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America.
“Our only consolation is he went for a noble cause and his death was worthy of what he believed,” his mother said. “It was a heavy price to pay, but knowing him like I did, he would have given his life to disseminate all these ideas and ideals he held.”
Nervously gripping a small piece of paper with one of his son’s poems, Chris Gavriel read it aloud:
”Hope lives among so few, yet strong it is I know,” he said, forcing out the words through tears. ”For I am still a dreamer, along the track I go.”
Lance Corporal Gavriel is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with some of America’s most revered military heroes.