Firefighters from across the state attend the funeral service for Lance Cpl. Brandon Garabrant at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, N.H. on Saturday. Before becoming a Marine, he was a Peterborough police and fire explorer and a Temple firefighter. (Jim Cole/The Associated Press)
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Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Garabrant (Department of Defense/AP)
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday at the Conval High School Auditorium and lined the streets for the funeral of a New Hampshire Marine killed last month by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
Cpl. Brandon Garabrant, 19, of Greenfield, died along with two other Marines on June 20 in Helmand province.
The funeral was at the school in Peterborough where Garabrant graduated last year. During the service, Garabrant, formerly a lance corporal, was posthumously awarded the rank of corporal along with the Purple Heart. For most of the two-hour service, friends and family struggled to come to grips with the loss.
"My love is with you always. I promise to be brave. I'll remember you, and honor you for the sacrifice you made," Aizlyn Alfonso sang during the service. The song, "In Honor," was composed by family friends Kaitlyn and Susan Gosnel. The song told the story of watching Garabrant grow from a sweet little boy into a young man and learning that he had been killed in action.
Garabrant's mother, Jessie, honored her son with a video montage of his life. She picked out pictures of birthdays and bath times, vacations and milestones — Garabrant joining the Temple Volunteer Fire Department, him wearing his Marine uniform — and quiet moments with siblings. As the movie played out, the soundtrack played a song asking God for strength.
The Rev. Brent Charles, pastor of Jaffrey Bible Church where Garabrant was an active member, could barely make it through his eulogy, at one point stopping and asking everyone to pray with him, "lest my heart get carried away from such grief."
He described Garabrant as a deeply spiritual person who adored his mother and father and who, even as a teenager, never had a harsh word to say about anyone in his family. Garabrant had a big heart and an even bigger smile, even when he was in trouble, Charles said.
Garabrant was buried with full military honors the New Hampshire State Veteran's Cemetery.
John Garabrant spoke of his son's bravery. He recalled a post from his son while he was in Afghanistan in which he wrote of being scared and asking for God's help.
"(He wrote) 'May God be with us on this night. May guardian Angels watch out and protect us. I'm sending love to all my family and friends,'" John Garabrant said, recalling the post.
"He was scared deep down inside," he said. "But he did what he had to do."
With that, he turned to the casket.
"I love you," he said. "I'm proud to be your father."