Local families with relatives in the military share their stories
From left to right: Lucy, Elicia, Brianne, and Mariah Dupuis hold up some of the letters they have received from Tim.
Chris Lawn takes a call overseas.
Proud father Andy Lawn poses with photos of Chris.
Two year old Timothy Dupuis poses for the camera.
Dupuis at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va.
Timothy Dupuis, third from left, during his cadet commission.
A young Timothy Dupuis waits for the school bus in Jaffrey.
Members of the Dupuis family clebrate Timothy's (center) graduation outside of Conant High School in June.
Timothy, far left, and the rest of the Dupuis clan in a recent family portrait.
Marica Dupuis, 11, and Elicia Dupuis, 9, of Jaffrey, enjoy ice cream at the social at the old Meeting House on July 4.
Maria Dupuis, 11, Lucy Dupuis, 7, Brianne Dupuis, 5, and Elicia Dupuis, 9, all of Jaffrey, enjoy ice cream while hanging out on an antique Jaffrey fire truck during the ice cream social on July 4.
After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is changing hands. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.
Imagine being born and raised in a small town in the Monadnock region, growing up with the lofty dream of becoming one of the few, the proud — the Marines. Imagine graduating from high school, saying goodbye to family a mere two days after receiving a diploma, and being shipped down to Parris Island, S.C., for boot camp. Now imagine five days after you arrive at boot camp, a Marine from a small town in your neck of the woods just a year older than you is killed while on patrol in Afghanistan.
For Jaffrey resident Timothy Dupuis, this just what happened. “When [Tim] was very young, he knew he wanted to be a Marine. Nobody could change his mind. His heart was set on it. A lot of family members tried to talk him out of it,” said Keith Dupuis, Tim’s father, in a recent interview.
Tim graduated from Conant High School on June 13. “High school graduation didn’t mean as much as graduating boot camp will. Tim viewed high school as another step towards his goal,” Keith said, about Tim’s desire to become a Marine.
In just two short days following graduation, Tim would take a major step towards reaching that goal, leaving behind his nine brothers and sisters and childhood friends for 13 weeks of Marine boot camp. Tim’s family threw him a graduation, send-off party on June 14. That night, Tim stayed out late with his friends, according to his sister, Chastity Dupuis.
The next day, Tim was off to Parris Island Five days later, news that Brandon Garabrant, 19, a Marine from Greenfield, was killed in action.
“I saw [that he had been killed] on Facebook. I remembered the graduation incident and was in shock,” recalled Tim’s mother, Leah, referring to ConVal High School’s decision to deny Garabrant’s request to wear his Marine uniform during his high school graduation in 2013.
Garabrant completed courses to earn his high school diploma early, allowing him to attend boot camp prior to his high school graduation. Garabrant graduated from ConVal on June 8, 2013, one day after he graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, S.C. Garabrant served in the Marines as a lance corporal until June 20, 2014, when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
“We’re all used to being in constant contact,” said Leah, who had to get used to not hearing from one of her kids on a daily basis. Not hearing from Tim only got harder after Garabrant’s tragic death.
Upon hearing news of Garabrant’s death, Keith couldn’t help but think of the similarities his son shared with the young Marine. “Tim’s Military Occupational Specialty is combat engineer, the same specialty Garabrant had. Tim could do the same job as Brandon in the same place,” said Keith.
On June 30, 10 days after Garabrant’s death, a letter from Tim received by the Dupuis family read, “I’m in the same battalion, company, barracks and even the same deck as Garabrant was. It’s crazy thinking that a little more than a year ago he was in the same spot and now he’s gone.”
Reeling from the recent death of a local Marine, community members began to write Tim letters, according to Keith and Leah. “Tim may not even know these people. We get daily questions about Tim’s status. The support has been awesome,” said Keith.
Another letter from Tim to his family reads, “I know I’m in the same barracks company and deck as Brandon, because he was in Aspens Platoon and we came to the barracks after his graduation. I asked my drill instructor about Garabrant and found out they called him ‘Carebear.’”
According to Leah, Tim struggled with death talks at boot camp after Garabrant’s passing. “Now, Tim is at peace with where he is,” she said.
Keith is Jaffrey’s assistant fire chief and remembered Garabrant as a fellow firefighter. “We think about [Brandon’s] family. We put ourselves in their shoes. Dealing with loss across the world is impossible to imagine. Closure would be really hard. Tim is a reliable, responsible kid. He is not only my son, but my best friend, too,” said Keith.
With nine siblings at home, Tim is missed everyday.
“We never got along growing up,” Chastity said. “We fought all the time. Then I went to college and we became close. Right after we became close, he left. Our family will never be the same again.”
When Tim graduates boot camp in September, everyone from the Dupuis clan plans to be on hand. “Tim left a child, and will come back a man. His childhood ended when he left, that’s how I view it,” said Leah.
According to his parents, Tim leaves a big hole in their family. Being the second oldest of 10, he was constantly playing the role of big brother, something his siblings miss constantly. “Tim would always include me and bring me places like fishing, or the Outback Steak House,” said his brother, Johnny.
Tim’s 5-year-old sister, Brianne, remembers the special connection they shared when he was home. “When he went to work, I would say that he is my favorite big brother, and he would say I was his favorite sister,” she said.
For the first time ever, Maria did not have her brother, Tim, to share her birthday party with this summer. Traditionally, the two siblings share a party since Tim’s birthday is June 18 and Maria’s is July 18. “He turned 18 at boot camp. Tim is the only one who would play baseball with me, and we always shared a birthday party. It was different this year without him.”
According to Keith and Leah, the transition into a military family is abrupt, something fellow Jaffrey resident Andy Lawn is all too familiar with.
Lawn’s son, Chris, graduated from Conant in 2005, where he was a three-sport athlete, playing baseball, basketball and soccer. Chris joined the Air Force just after earning his high school diploma.
“He was going to follow in my footsteps and join the Navy, but he told me he didn’t want to,” said Andy in a recent interview. Andy served in the Navy from 1980 to 1984, stationed in Scotland during the Cold War as a submarine repairman.
“After I graduated high school, I was watching MTV and the ‘Join the Navy, Save the world’ commercial came on, that was it for me,” said Lawn, who joined the Navy without telling his mom. Now that Andy is a parent with a kid of his own in the service, he views joining the military very different from his MTV viewing days.
“As a parent, your job is to provide for your kids. It’s hard to send your kid off to protect you,” he said.
Chris, now 26, has completed three tours in the Middle East, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Chris is now stationed in England on a four-year tour, and Andy hasn’t seen Chris since last April. “He’s also got a new daughter I’ve never met.”
Andy is proud of what his son has accomplished. “I always told my kids, you either go to college or join the service,” he said.
Knowing what being in the military is like gives Andy a unique perspective on Chris’ journey. “I’ll always be proud of him. Any parent that goes to boot camp graduation has a new outlook on the military and what it is to be an American.”
Like the Dupuis family, Andy has limited contact with Chris while he’s deployed. “When we do talk, we talk about family stuff. We Skyped last night for an hour. We talked about Mount Monadnock, The Red Sox, family, hunting and fishing,” Andy recalled.
When Garabrant was killed, Andy was emotionally affected, as were many in the Monadnock region.
“It hit home. As a parent, you are always worried about your kids. That’s the worst thing that could happen. I remember reading the paper and thinking to myself, ‘I couldn’t imagine being in those parents’ shoes.”
The Lawn and Dupuis families are just two of many in the Monadnock region with members serving overseas. A tragedy like Brandon Garabrant’s hits home, but does not deter young men, such as Chris and Tim, who are at different stages in their respective military careers, from pursuing their dreams of serving the country.
“Everyone,” Andy said, “should be proud to serve their country.”