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Thousands attend funeral service for Marine in Peterborough

Union Leader Correspondent

July 05. 2014 5:43PM
More than 500 motorcyclists led by the Patriot Guard Riders. and made up of several other veterans motorcycle groups as well as individual motorcyclists. joined a motorcade for Lance Cpl. Brandon Garabrant at Route 202, where his funeral was held at ConVal Regional High School Saturday to the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. (Meghan Pierce)

PETERBOROUGH -- More than 2,000 people attended the funeral service for Marine Lance Corporal Brandon Garabrant at ConVal Regional High School Saturday morning, both inside the school gymnasium where the service was held,  outside in the parking lot and along Route 202.

Garabrant "paid the ultimate sacrifice for us," said U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte during the service. “We owe our freedom to Brandon and to men and women like him. There's no question our world is a better and safer place because of Brandon."

Speaking to Garabrant's family -- parents John Garabrant and Jessie Evans Garabrant, sister Mykala Garabrant and brother Jacob Garabrant, Ayotte said, "I am deeply humbled to be here to honor the life of your son and brother, Corporal Brandon Garabrant, a true American hero," Ayotte said. "Brandon was an extraordinary young man. … He lived life wholly, he lived life selflessly. Brandon faced dangerous situations with courage."

About 1,400 people attended the service inside the gym. Along with Ayotte, Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Congresswomen Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, were in attendance.

Hundreds more gathered along Route 202 holding American flags and many holding signs of Garabrant's favorite bible verse, Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Additionally more than 500 motorcyclists, including several veterans' motorcycle groups and individual veterans, gathered in the parking lot and the middle school parking lot down the road and joined the motorcade to the burial after the funeral.

June 20, Garabrant was one of three Marines killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand Providence, Afghanistan. The 19-year-old Marine grew up in Greenfield and graduated from ConVal in 2013.

During his funeral service Pastor Brent M. Charles, who was Garabrant's spiritual advisor growing up as a member of Jaffrey Bible Church, said Garabrant lived a kind and courageous life of service, and is remembered for his perpetual smile.

In his last moments Garabrant was rushing with fellow Marines to help their brothers in arms who themselves had been ambushed down the road by an IED, Charles said.

Ayotte recounted Garabrant's service to his community through his church, his work at Touchstone Farm in Temple and at Summer Hill Retirement in Peterborough and as a firefighter.

"Brandon was all about helping people," Ayotte said. "Joining the Marines and serving his country was a natural extension of his life of service. … Sempra Fi was a way of life for Brandon."

Along with the large Marine, other military personnel, and veterans attendance -- area police and firefighters attended in large numbers to honor Garabrant.

He was a Police and Fire Explorer in Peterborough and a Temple firefighter before he joined the Marines.

At the close of the service Marines acting a pall-bearers carried Garabrant's coffin out of the gym and to the parking lot where they placed it in the back of a Temple fire truck for its journey to the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen for burial.

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