Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
Media Contact: Marine Corps Public Affairs - (703) 614-4309 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lance Corporal Dimitrios Gavriel, 29, of New
York, New York
Both Marines died November 19, 2004, as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Gavriel was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. West was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
For further information on Gavriel contact the 2nd Marine Division Public Affairs Office at (910) 451-9033. For more information on West contact the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.
Penelope Gavriel said her son felt obligated to do what he believed was right
Semper fi: Courageous Marine gave up Wall Street
riches to avenge 9/11
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.,
Wall St. analyst, Iraq casualty
Haverhill Marine dies in Fallujah combat
By Megan Tench and Brian MacQuarrie
Courtesy of the Boston Globe
November 23, 2004
HAVERHILL, MASSACHUSETTS -- Called by a sense of duty following the World Trade Center attacks, Dimitrios Gavriel left behind his career as a Wall Street analyst, joined the Marines, and shipped out to Iraq. There he went to the front lines as a Lance Corporal a decade older than most of his comrades.
Last week, Gavriel, 29, was killed in fierce fighting in Fallujah.
Two weeks before his death on Novembver 18, 2004, the Haverhill man told reporters he was ''locked, cocked, and ready to rock" for the coming urban battle. Today, he is mourned, a former New Hampshire high school wrestling champion and a Brown University graduate who wrote poetry and coached children in New York.
Gavriel's death in combat was the tragedy his family feared, but a sacrifice he was willing to make.
''He knew there was more to life than getting a job and making a living," his father, Chris, said yesterday, sobbing on the living room couch. ''Our only consolation is that he went for a noble cause."
Surrounded by photographs, poems, and a journal their son left behind, the Gavriels described him as a thoughtful and responsible man whose unwavering obligation to what he believed was right had overwhelmed their pleas for him to stay home, safe.
His mother, Penelope, recalled that she picked up the local newspapers and read aloud the names of fallen soldiers.
''Look at these kids. Do you want to end up like them?" she told her son. ''He would say: 'Mom, look at the odds. How many went, and how many got killed?' "
So, he went, she said.
Before joining the Marines in October 2003, Gavriel was an ambitious Wall Street analyst, working at major companies such as J.P. Morgan and Bank of America. He spent his weekends in the Bronx, volunteering as a wrestling coach at high schools.
But when Gavriel attended the memorial services of at least two friends who had died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, ''it really affected him emotionally," Chris Gavriel said.
''My son wasn't seeking vengeance," his father said. ''He wanted to prove himself."
Gavriel, a state wrestling champion and honor student from Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow, New Hampshire, had the college credentials to go to the Marines' Officer Candidates School. But instead, his family said, Gavriel was determined to go to boot camp with the rank and file and dropped his weight from 270 to 225 pounds.
''He knew better than all of us what he wanted, and he knew the risks," his father said. ''I'm afraid to say it, but I could not fill his shoes. He was beyond me."
Gavriel, who had been based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was serving with the First Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, Second Marine Expeditionary Force. The Marine units spearheaded the assault on Fallujah.
His family learned that Gavriel was on the front lines only three weeks ago. ''He was worried about getting his parents upset, so he never told them he was a rifleman," Maria Synodinos said of her cousin. ''He wanted to spare them the pain."
On Friday evening, four uniformed military officers knocked on the family's flag-draped door. As soon as she saw them, Penelope Gavriel said, she knew.
''Is he gone?" the mother whispered.
''Yes, ma'am," an officer responded.
Penelope and Chris Gavriel have nothing but pride for their son, whose body arrived in Dover, Delaware, yesterday afternoon. Gavriel is expected to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Plans for a memorial service in Haverhill have not been completed, family members said.
A scholarship fund in his name has been set up at Timberlane Regional High School, 36 Greenough Road, Plaistow, New Hampshire, 03865.
A lover of books, the soft-spoken Gavriel kept a series of journals and poems. They are now sitting on his parents' coffee table. With each flip of the page, family members said, they learn something new and powerful about him. They said they are waiting for the scores of journals and poetry Dimitrios kept in Iraq.
''This is the first journal I ever kept," Gavriel wrote in one entry in block letters. ''I heard great men kept journals. . . . I'd like to be great."
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."
Family, friends recall their Ďtreasure,í fallen Marine
24 November 2004
HAVERHILL, Massachusetts - Until last week, Penelope Gavriel believed her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Dimitrios Gavriel, was working in a military-intelligence office somewhere in Iraq. But it turned out his "office" was the frontline.
Gavriel, 29, formerly of Atkinson, New Hampshire, was carrying a machine gun when he died during intense fighting in Fallujah on November 19, 2004. He is survived by his mother, his father, Chris, and a 27-year-old sister, Christina, among other family and friends.
On Tuesday, his mother remembered her son as a "treasure" of a boy who radiated joy and was "as big as life, but never intimidating."
"He was not an ordinary kid; he was aiming high," Penelope Gavriel said.
Dimitrios "Dimmy" Gavriel was a member of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
A 1993 graduate of Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow, Gavriel earned a business management degree from Brown University in 1997 and went on to a career as a financial analyst on Wall Street. In New York, he worked for such firms as Paine Webber and J.P. Morgan, among others.
But after four of his friends - two of them former Brown fraternity brothers - were killed in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Gavriel gave up his career to join the military, his mother said.
Don Woodworth, the assistant principal at Timberlane Regional High School, and one of Gavrielís former wrestling coaches, said on Tuesday he was not surprised by his former studentís decision to enlist.
In joining the military, Gavriel thought he could be "an active participant in eradicating a wrong," Woodworth said.
"He looked for a higher purpose," Woodworth said. "It all fits; he was a loyal kid."
Gavriel, a heavyweight, was the captain of the high schoolís wrestling team when it captured the state title in 1993.
"He was larger than life in so many ways," Woodworth said. "We looked at him as a perfect kind of role model. ... It sounds so cliché, but he was remarkable and very impressive to know."
Gavriel was named after his motherís brother, Dimitrios, who, as a green beret in the Greek Army, was killed by friendly fire in 1972, according to Penelope Gavriel.
"Itís an eerie set of circumstances," she said, reflecting on both deaths.
She called her son "a good patriot."
"He joined during war time. ... He was so proud of that," she said.
Eight days before his death, Gavriel sustained a shrapnel wound to his leg. Although he could have remained behind, he chose to return to the fight, she said.
Gavriel believed he had much to fight for, according to his mother.
Chris and Penelope Gavriel emigrated to the United States from Greece when they were in their 20s, she said. She called the familyís story "the typical, ultimate American success story," and said her son joined the military as a way to honor the United States.
"He used to say this country has blessed our family with so much," she said.
Gavrielís family is planning a memorial service to celebrate his life. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, his mother said. His family is in the process of establishing scholarships in Gavrielís name at both Timberlane and Brown.
Well-read, Gavriel wrote poetry and journals that chronicled his life experience.
His family released some of those writings on Tuesday. As a 23-year-old, Gavriel wrote: "I have heard that great men often kept journals - Iíd like to be great."
"People liked him," Woodworth recalled. "Dimmy showed the way."
November 30, 2004
HAVERHILL, Mass. -- A fallen Marine with New
Hampshire ties was remembered Tuesday in Haverhill.
Lance Corporal Dimitrios Gavriel was killed in action earlier this month. More than 1,000 mourners attended his funeral to pay their respects. Loved ones called him a good boy that turned out to be a great man.
"He laid down his life for his friends, those who he worked with at the World Trade Center, those that became the victims of the holocaust known as 9/11," said Metropolitan Methodias, Greek Orthodox archbishop of Boston.
One year ago, the 29-year-old gave up a career on Wall Street to enlist, saying he owed it to friends who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On November 19, 2004, one week after being injured in Iraq, he returned to the battlefield in Fallujah, where he was killed in action.
"He was a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and, more importantly, in defense of his own beliefs, character and integrity," said Anthony Farina, a friend.
Friends said Gavriel was a born leader. He was a popular wrestling star at Timberlane High School in Plaistow, New Hampshire, a decade ago.
"I'd like to be profound and say something that would take everyone's pain away and answer the question why," another friend said. "Fortunately, Dimmy's a better man than a few words can cover."
Gavriel was awarded two purple hearts by President
George W. Bush. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
A Haverhill Marine who left a comfortable life on Wall Street after 9/11 to serve his country was remembered yesterday "as a good boy who became a great man'' and crammed more living in 29 years than most do in a lifetime.
His flag-draped casket escorted by a Marine Corps Honor Guard at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church, Lance Corporal Dimitrios ``Dimmy'' Gavriel was the first in his family to be born in America. He sacrificed his life in Fallujah two weeks ago, fighting to fulfill the deep commitment he felt to his beloved nation.
"He had been talking about it for a while and once Dimmy starts talking about doing something, it's usually a done deal,'' said Matthew McLelland, Gavriel's Brown University classmate and best friend. "I've looked up to him forever.''
A standout student and wrestler at Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow, New Hampshire, and again at Brown, Gavriel was deeply affected by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which he witnessed in New York. Two of his Brown fraternity brothers died in the World Trade Center. Gavriel was talking to one by cellphone as he made his doomed attempt to escape.
Nearly everyone close to him tried to dissuade Gavriel from joining the Marines, especially since he was in his late 20s with lingering knee and ankle injuries from wrestling. But he left Wall Street, where he had worked for several major financial institutions as an analyst, lost some 40 pounds off his bear-like frame and completed the grueling 13-week Parris Island boot camp last year.
Gavriel had already been wounded by shrapnel and was in line for a Purple Heart when he returned to his unit and was killed in the bitter house-to-house fighting in Fallujah. McLelland said his friend wrote that in the weeks before the Marines made their major assault on the insurgent stronghold, he was "waffling back and forth on whether I want to go through with this or not but in the end it's not my decision.''
Another of Gavriel's Brown classmates, Anthony Farinha, said Gavriel's warm nature was magnetic, as evidenced by his vast number of friends, but he also had an insatiable intellect and such strong personal convictions that he was unique among his peers. "He died in defense of our beliefs but he also died in defense of his,'' Farinha told the overflow crowd of mourners. "When I heard his father say he was not worthy to walk in his place, is there any higher compliment a father can bestow his son?''
Chris and Penelope Gavriel, along with their daughter Christina, will bury their son tomorrow in Arlington National Cemetery.
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.
By Rebecca Dana
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Friday, December 3, 2004
The medals and the American flag were almost too much for Kiona Bryant to hold as she sat yesterday at the grave of her high school sweetheart.
So she bundled them together, the Purple Heart
and the Bronze Star and the flag that once draped the coffin of her husband,
Jack, and turned her head away from the scene.
One by one, the soldiers who conducted the service touched her arm, whispered condolences and marched off across an open field at Arlington National Cemetery.
It was a scene that would be repeated later in the day. Bryant's husband was one of two soldiers killed in Iraq who were laid to rest yesterday in the cemetery, hours apart, in nearby graves.
Army Sergeant Jack "Jay" Bryant Jr., 23, died November 20, 2004, in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military convoy, followed by a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Bryant, of Dale City, Virginia, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, based in Vilseck, Germany.
Lance Corporal Dimitrios Gavriel, 29, a native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was killed a day earlier a result of enemy action in the Anbar province. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The men were the 98th and 99th service members killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington. The long, slow sound of taps rang out for both men on the crisp, clear day.
Bryant had begged his parents not to worry when he was deployed to Iraq and promised them he would be fine. "He would often tell us that he's immortal," his father, Jack Bryant Sr., said in an interview shortly after his son's death.
Just before he was killed, Bryant had a two-week leave in Germany with his wife and their toddler son, Keshawn James. Together, they celebrated an early Thanksgiving, far from their home in Dale City, and far from the uncertain battlefields of Iraq. They took a seven-day tour of Paris, and then Bryant returned to combat.
Bryant graduated from Hylton High School just over five years ago and went straight into the Army with dreams of seeing the world -- which he did -- and taking some time off before coming home for college. Recently, he had taken some computer science courses through the University of Maryland.
Endlessly optimistic, quick with a smile or a joke, Bryant's real passion was music, his father said. He sang in the choir at Star Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Triangle, where his father is an associate minister. Shortly before his death, Bryant had taken to writing rap songs.
At 10 a.m. yesterday, the soldier's friends and family gathered around his grave. There, before burying his son, Jack Bryant Sr. somberly received an American flag from Lieutenant General Larry J. Dodgen, Commanding General of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Kiona Bryant accepted one as well, along with her husband's medals.
An Army firing party fired into the air a final salute of three shots, sharp and quick.
Three hours later, Gavriel's family and friends arrived, as did Massachusetts Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D) and John F. Kerry (D), both of whom carried small yellow flower arrangements to place on the casket. Gavriel's mother accepted a flag from Staff Sergeant Charles Dorsey of the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington. A Greek Orthodox chaplain, the Rev. Father Nicholas Manousalas, finished the ceremony.
Two weeks before his death, Gavriel told reporters he was "locked, cocked and ready to rock," the Boston Globe reported.
Like Bryant, Gavriel had a thing for rhymes.
The high school wrestling champion and former Wall Street analyst, began keeping a journal of poems and thoughts after he graduated from Brown University in 1997, which his parents, Chris and Penelope, found only recently, according to media reports. In one piece, published in the Boston Herald shortly before his funeral in Haverhill, he wrote:
And then there are the dreamers
After he died, friends and family remembered Gavriel as an idealist, a 270-pound giant of a man who quit a high-profile job in finance to do what he believed was right, according to accounts in the Massachusetts newspapers. On September 11, 2001, during the moments before the attacks on the World Trade Center, Gavriel had been on the phone with a friend working in one of the towers, according to the news stories. That made it clear: He would go to Iraq.
What became clear only later, on two, dark November days, was how he and Bryant would come home.
So yesterday two families paused, at different times and in different ways, on the same small patch of grass at Arlington. They said prayers and stood in silence. And they honored two very different men, a pair of dreamers.
Photo Courtesy of Holly, August 2005
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2006
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 2 December 2004