VOLUNTOWN, CT, US
U.S. Marine Corps
LCPL, 1ST BN 2D MAR, (RCT-2, MEB-A FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
06/18/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
On Thursday, April 1, the close-knit community of Voluntown, Connecticut was shaken by a great tragedy, and the entire country felt their pain as they lost one of their own, a proud United States Marine.
Nineteen year old Tyler Owen Griffin, a Lance Corporal (LCPL) in the US Marine Corps, passed away unexpectedly as the result of injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan. His body now lies at Arlington National Cemetery, one among more than 300,000 who have served our country in both war and peace.
A 2008 graduate of Griswold High School, Griffin was easygoing, well-liked among his peers, and left an everlasting impression on anyone lucky enough to know him. Eighteen year old Erica Ferrando, a high school classmate and friend of Griffin, talked about his undeniable generosity, kind heart, and positive effect on others.
“He would have given the shirt off his back for anyone,” she said. “He could easily make someone’s day just by smiling at them. He had the brightest big blue eyes and he just made everyone happy. The day he lost his life, he was just trying to help someone else live. When the medical team came to his aid first, he told them to go save a fellow Marine, instead.”
Joe Sylvester, another fellow classmate of Griffin, talked about what he was like in school, how his future plans were always evident, and how reality isn’t quite setting in for those who were close to him.
“Tyler was athletic, he played football for the school, and he was a really nice kid. He would do anything for anyone; even buy things if someone didn’t have money,” he said. “He always wanted to be in the Marines, he knew that freshmen year, and that is all he talked about wanting to do. I still can’t believe this happened, and neither can anyone else that we went to school with. He is the first GHS ‘08 class member we have lost.”
Friends and family are certainly not alone in seeing the impact Griffin had on others. Fellow Marines, as well, spoke of how Tyler changed their lives. TJ Downs, a Marine who had gotten to know Griffin on a more personal level, shared how his experience with him was unforgettable.
“I lived in the same room with Tyler for a year, I was with him in the last minutes of his life, and I can tell you as a Marine, that he was doing his job to the best of his ability,” he said. “I love Griff like a brother. A part of me will always be empty, and another part will always be full of respect for a boy that was only 19, but taught several Marines, including myself, how to be a man with loyalty and character. I am 23, and I wasn’t even a quarter of the man he was when I was his age.”
In serving our country, fighting for our freedom, and having the confidence and bravery so many do not have, United States Marine, LCPL Tyler Owen Griffin, made the ultimate sacrifice: he lost his life. As a family who has been faced with a harsh reality and endured tremendous heartache, the Griffins have to ask, “Why our Tyler?” Though there is no way to truly find resolution to that question, perhaps the answer may be in the number of people who have been, and will be, influenced by his death. From those who held a flag and watched the motorcade pass, to those who carried his casket, to those who wept, and to those who now read his epitaph, thousands of people have been affected by his death, and thousands of people will never forget all that he stood for. A proud United States Marine, Tyler Griffin was sadly taken, but will always be remembered. May he rest in peace.