LYNN, MA, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, G CO, 2D BN, 6TH MAR, (II MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC FALLUJAH, IRAQ 05/09/2007
Lance Corporal Walter K. O’Haire, USMC, known to his family and friends as “Gator”, was born on May 15, 1986. He was buried on last Tuesday, May 15. Gator met his death on May 9, six days short of his 21st birthday. He was on a foot patrol in al-Anbar Province in Iraq with his unit – Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Division (Infantry).
Walter O’Haire was originally from South Boston. His mother and father are Maureen (Mansfield) and Thomas O’Haire. Young Walter was born at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Dorchester. The O’Haire family first lived on Burke Street in Old Colony, and then moved to East Eighth. Walter attended the Condon and Perry Schools. He played baseball under his coach, Joe Ronca, who gave him an autographed ball that his mother, Maureen, placed in his casket last week.
When Walter was ten, the O’Haires moved to Rockland. Early on, the move did not go well for Walter. He said, “Rockland was the boondocks”, and before he made some friends, he thought the residents of Rockland were a bunch of hicks. But that changed, of course. When he was buried from the Holy Family in Rockland, the entire town turned out to mourn his passing.
His nickname “Gator” started out as “Wallygator”, after the television character who couldn’t be confined. Walter had always been like that himself – when he didn’t want to stay put, he didn’t. He would at times climb out a back window, so he could be on his own. “Wallygator” was soon shortened to “Gator”, and the rest is history, as they say.
Walter “Gator” O’Haire completed his high school requirements at South Shore Regional VoTech. After holding a series of part-time jobs, he decided to enlist in the Marines, which he did on December 28, 2005 – an unusual way to celebrate the Christmas Season. He took basic training at Parris Island, went on to Advanced Infantry School, and completed his training at Lejeune as a HMMWV driver, a.k.a. the “Hummer”.
While he was stateside, he was always driving home for a quick, two-day weekend: Friday night after duty hours until Sunday evening, as close to midnight as possible. Technically, that violates the regulations concerning weekend passes, but it probably sounds familiar to anyone who spent time in the military. And remember – “Gator” wouldn’t let himself be tied down anywhere, not even at Lejeune. He would call his mother (much to her distress) on Sunday afternoons, just as he was getting to George Washington Bridge in New York City and heading due south back to base.
Walter was part of a large, and in many ways, an unusual family. He was the sixth in a family of nine children – Billy, Matt, Amy, Margaret, Thomas (“L’il Tommy”), Walter (“Gator”), Kevin, Patrick, and Kaylea-Rose. Four were adopted – Amy, Kevin, Patrick, and Kaylea-Rose.
You see, Tommy and Maureen served as foster parents. During their 25-year marriage, they gave perhaps as many 50 kids-at-risk a good start in life. Along the way, they adopted four of them. Gator’s brothers and susters all said that he was generous to a fault – “He would give you anything.” His sister Maureen spoke of how he was always playing with the kids and giving them rides – “He lived for his family.” His godfather and uncle, Jack Mansfield chuckled as he recalled that Gator could be quite stubborn – “He always managed to have the last word.”
Lance Corporal Walter K. O’Haire, USMC. May 15, 1986, to May 9, 2007. Godspeed and farewell, Gator.