Lance Corporal Brandon Garabrant, who enlisted in the Marines even before graduation, was one of three U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan on Friday. The community where the 19-year-old grew up were saddened by his death, and a flag was at half mast outside the fire station where he was a volunteer.
Capital Bay Garabrant had been so proud of making it into the Marines that he made headlines last year after trying to wear his uniform to his high school graduation. His Peterborough school denied his request, telling the teenager that he would have to wear his cap and gown over the newly acquired uniform.
The principal, Brian Pickering, this week praised his former student and said the school community was upset to hear that Garabrant had died. ‘We are all shocked and deeply saddened by his passing and we are incredibly grateful for his service to our country,’ Pickering told WMUR9.
Garabrant’s untimely death struck a chord with many in his New Hampshire community. Several had already backed the young man’s dedication to the forces after his plea to graduate in his uniform. As well as serving in the Marines, Garabrant worked as a volunteer firefighter.
At the time of the high school celebration last June, he had just completed his training at a South Carolina camp. Several shops around the school showed their support for his request to wear the uniform, and put signs up calling for the school to change its rules. His mother, Jesse Garabrant, said at the time: ‘I’m overwhelmed with the support of the community. It’s just wonderful.’
As well as being a dedicated Marine, Garabrant also worked as a volunteer firefighter in Temple.. ‘Whenever he came home on leave, the first thing he did, contacting me, “Chief, I need a pager so I can help you out”,’ volunteer fire chief George Clark said. ‘He absolutely loved what he was doing. He knew the sacrifice and he was still willing to do it,’ Clark told WMRU9.
Peterborough police chief Scott Guinard also praised the young Marine, calling him ‘a young gentleman’. New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan has paid tribute to the Marine and volunteer firefighter who was ‘dedicated to serving his fellow citizens, and he was tragically taken from us far too soon’.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen added: ‘Garabrant was a hero in every sense of the word. He valiantly served our country and epitomized the bravery and sacrifice of every member of our armed forces for which we will be forever grateful.’