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Old 03-27-2007, 12:56 PM
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LCpl Dimitrios Gavriel, USMC, 29, New York, NY (Iraq)

Arlington National Cemetery

Dimitrios Gavriel
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

Semper fi: Courageous Marine gave up Wall Street riches to avenge 9/11 and died a hero
By Tom Farmer
Tuesday, November 23, 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 Cpl. 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.

The lance corporal will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with some of America's most revered military heroes.

Gavriel's parents said they will have a local memorial service for their son when his remains are returned from Iraq.

``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.''

The family has set up a scholarship in his memory at Timberlane Regional High School to benefit two scholastic wrestlers every year. Anyone interested in contributing can mail donations to the school at 36 Greenough Road, Plaistow, N.H., 03865.
1 December 2004:
The body of Dimitrios Gavriel, 29, who sacrificed his career on Wall Street to join the war in Iraq, arrived at his hometown church yesterday in a flag-draped coffin.

When his body entered Holy Apostles Saint Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, the foreboding echo of organ music that filled the sanctuary stopped on one final reverberating note. The lights went dim, the church bells rang, and the nervous whispers of hundreds of mourners turned into quiet sobs.

It was a ceremony steeped in Greek tradition, chants, burning incense, and prayer for a lance corporal and local hero who was killed two weeks ago during a fierce battle in Fallujah.

His friends called him Dimmy.

The archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Boston and 11 other local priests presided at Gavriel's funeral. Governor Mitt Romney shook the hand of Gavriel's father, Chris, and offered words of comfort to his mother, Penelope. The couple stood expressionless, their fingers intertwined, their eyes locked on their son's casket, as they followed it in a procession led by 10 Marines.

Gavriel, who was awarded two Purple Hearts, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia tomorrow.

It was no surprise to old classmates, family members, colleagues, and friends that Gavriel, a hulking figure at 270 pounds, would drop his career as a successful financial analyst to become a Marine on the front lines.

A decade older than most of his comrades, the Ivy League graduate and New Hampshire high school wrestling champion was called by a profound sense of duty and an intense moral obligation, many said, after losing friends in the World Trade Center attacks.

He laid down his life for his friends, said Metropolitan Methodios, head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Boston, to a crowd of 20- and 30-somethings, elderly veterans in full uniform, and friends wearing Timberlane High School wrestling team jackets.

''Truly awesome is the mystery of death, how the soul's bond with the body is violently broken," the metropolitan said while praying in melodic tones that Gavriel will rest in a place where there is no sorrow, pain, war, or suffering.

''Dimitrios Gavriel truly cared about his fellow man," said Dr. Frank Bass, who compared Gavriel to Achilles, Nestor, Odysseus, the figures of Greek mythology. ''He didn't talk about it. . . . He lived it."

''Dimitrios knew the dangerous path he tread," Bass said, speaking in both Greek and English. ''He was a good boy who became a great man."

Matthew McClelland met Gavriel when they were both freshman athletes at Brown University in Providence. McClelland, one of many who described Gavriel as his best friend, told the crowd packed into the church yesterday that he, too, wanted to share his thoughts in the Greek language.

''Unfortunately, the words I picked up from Dimmy over the years can't be repeated here," he said, drawing laughter.

McClelland, a former football player, admitted that he and Gavriel didn't like each other much when they first met in the weight room, but said they eventually grew close.

''He's been a tremendous influence on my life," McClelland said, searching for words to describe his loss. ''Rest in peace, brother," he finally said, before taking his seat.

With an unquenchable thirst for challenges, Gavriel took courses at Brown like neuroscience and art design, just for kicks, said former classmate Anthony Farina. Gavriel was also a clever prankster, with the ability and wit to get his most embarrassed victims to laugh at themselves, Farina added. And he was a traveler with sophisticated tastes, Farina joked, whether it be for the jerk chicken in Jamaica, the Dungeness crabs in San Francisco, the perfect steak in Manhattan, or the hot wings on Thayer Street in Providence.

Gavriel moved to New York in 2002 and became an investment analyst. While he loved his fast-paced life, working at high-power companies like Paine Webber, J.P. Morgan and Bank of America, Gavriel soon became bored with the routine of work, Farina said. Once, he tried to spice things up by purchasing a motorcycle, taking his friend on a fast drive through downtown rush-hour traffic.

''We did that once," Farina said, grumpily adding that perhaps the bike was not built for 500 pounds of riders.

''I respected him, admired him, and loved him like a brother," Farina concluded. ''He loved his mom and dad and his sister and spoke of them often with pride."

The ceremony ended with tradition.

The hundreds who filled the church filed out onto the street, alongside those who watched the ceremony on a big screen television in the church's basement. Inside the sanctuary, the coffin was opened and the family said their final farewell as the metropolitan blessed Gavriel's body.

Questions about the suddenness of death may linger, Methodios said to the family. But he advised them to close their ears to the world and search their souls.

''The most beautiful eulogy you will hear is when you reflect in silence," he said.
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 11/27/2003 - 11/19/2004
DATE OF BIRTH: 07/31/1975
DATE OF DEATH: 11/19/2004

Last edited by cmyr; 12-25-2008 at 01:44 PM.
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