At Pelham bridge dedication, it's fallen soldier's smile they'll remember
"He probably would have thought this was really funny," his mother, Denise Gionet, told the crowd gathered in front of St. Patrick's Church for a ceremony dedicating a bridge over Beaver Brook in honor of the fallen Army medic. "It's a lot like the day he graduated from high school, where he jumped in the pool wearing all of his clothes."
Gionet, a 2001 Pelham High School graduate who was injured by a roadside IED that struck his tank while he was serving in Iraq, died in June 2006 at the age of 24.
"He spent his final moments selflessly encouraging his fellow medics to care for others first," U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster said. "May we never forget all the sacrifices Dan made."
"Anywhere he'd walk into, he'd make people laugh," Sethre said. "His smile was the most contagious one I've ever seen or ever will."
Haines was inside the tank at the time of the explosion and suffered serious injuries. After emerging from a coma, he found himself in an American hospital, where he learned that his friend hadn't made it home.
"He never discriminated, and he was always so cheerful," he added. "We kept some pretty ungodly hours, and yet he'd have that smile on his face at 2 a.m."
Dressed in red, white and blue, the little girl with her daddy's megawatt smile celebrated her 8th birthday on Sunday.
"He was the best friend anyone could have ever asked for," said Gelinas, who spent the earlier part of her childhood with Gionet when they both lived in Lowell, Mass.
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