LONDONDERRY — The son of a Londonderry High School special education paraprofessional was killed last week after being injured in a motorcycle crash in Killeen, Texas.
U.S. Army Cpl. Tyler J. Pimpis, 22, died Aug. 28. Pimpis, a 2009 Londonderry High School graduate, was stationed at Fort Hood at the time of his death, after serving two combat tours in Afghanistan.
Laurie Dawkins, who'd last seen her son when he came to Londonderry on leave this past June, said she was planning a trip to Texas at the time of his death. In the days following the loss of her son, Dawkins said a phone message of her son's voice punctuated by his irreplaceable laugh has offered her fleeting moments of comfort.
"He was just a happy-go-lucky kid who loved life," Dawkins said. "And he packed a whole lot of life in his 22 years."
Those who knew Pimpis best described him as an extremely family-oriented young man who enjoyed riding his motorcycle, building things out of wood and playing with the new puppy he'd recently adopted.
In fall 2007, while a junior at Londonderry High School, Pimpis was one of a dozen students in the school's Advanced Metal Engineering and Woodworking programs to assist in building a five-bedroom, four-bathroom home for on an episode of the "Extreme Makeover" television show.
Thanks to the efforts of the local teens, Manchester couple Reynald and Casey Voisine and their four children had a place to call home after losing their original home and most of their belongings during the 2006 Mother's Day flood.
"He was very proud of his role in the 'Extreme Makeover' home and thoroughly enjoyed the experience," Dawkins said.
During his visits home, Pimpis would stop in at his alma mater to catch up with his former teachers.
A former Londonderry High School quarterback, Pimpis was also on the varsity lacrosse team and had recently told his mother he was excited about the prospect of playing on his battalion's football team in Texas.
Londonderry High School teacher Steve Juster said that Pimpis encouraged his younger peers, always answering their questions about careers in the military.
"He represented the armed forces proudly," Juster said. "He didn't sugar-coat his mission and the commitment required, but honestly told us how great it felt to serve his country every day."
In addition to his mother, survivors include his father, Stephen Pimpis and sister Kaila Pimpis, both of Londonderry, and brother Michael Pimpis and sister-in-law Tiffany of Westport, Mass.
Pimpis joined the Army in early 2010, following in the footsteps of his classmate and close friend Brent Currier.
Brent's older brother, Private 1st Class Eric Currier, was killed while on duty in Afghanistan in February 2010. Brent eventually left the military honorably, though Pimpis soon reenlisted for a second term.
"I think Tyler was kind of lost after high school," his mother recalled. "He found his place in the Army life and he made so many friends wherever he went."
His younger sister, Kaila, who set up a memorial Facebook page in her brother's honor, said she had an extremely close relationship with her brother, who surprised her in 2011 when he took leave from one of his tours in Afghanistan to attend her high school graduation.
"Even though he was my big brother, I always felt like his big sister because there was always something you needed me for," Kaila Pimpis said via Facebook post on Monday. "There's no one in the world that could make me laugh like he could."