Essex community mourns fallen soldier

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(Host) The Essex community is mourning the loss of another Vermont soldier killed in Iraq.

Marine Corporal Christopher DeGionvine died on Thursday in Anbar province, when his vehicle drove over a roadside bomb.

VPR’s Lynne McCrea has this remembrance

(McCrea) 25-year-old Chris DeGiovine had been in Iraq just three weeks when the attack occurred. His father has said he was always interested in the military, and that the 9/11 attacks influenced his decision to eventually join the Marines two years ago.

DeGiovine grew up in Essex Junction, graduated from Essex High School in 2000, and from Champlain College in 2005.

Peter Gustafson was DeGiovine’s sixth-grade social studies teacher who watched him grow through the years. He says DeGiovine was a strong student, a gifted athlete, and a great friend to other kids.

(Gustafson) “A great kid, a great person to be around. You know, he’d be the one who would ask a 6th grade girl who was sitting alone to dance, at a dance, when he was an 8th grader. He reached out for other kids.”

(McCrea) Gustafson remembers several years ago, when DeGiovine, then in college, had a summer patrol job with the Essex Police Department, where he biked from park to park, connecting with kids.

(Gustafson) “And he got to know the kids. He loved with young people. And he had a gift for that. And so a lot of our students, when they see his picture in the Free Press will say I remember him. And that’s struck me most – how, he had a powerful, friendly personality.”

(McCrea) DeGiovine studied Criminal Justice in College, and the summer Bike Patrol job fit his interests.

Essex Police Chief David Demag says everyone in the department respected him – so much so that he was asked to come back the next summer.

(Demag) “He was just a dedicated, hard-working serious young man. When I say serious I mean in regards to his dedicated effort. He always had a smile on his face, got along well and he was able to go out in the community and deal with issues in a way that would solve the problem.”

(McCrea) Peter Gustafson, the teacher, thinks about what had been a bright future for Chris DeGiovine.

(Gustafson) “Very sad He had a whole world ahead of him. With his degree in Criminal Justice, he could have gone anywhere – the FBI, border patrol – could have done anything. And it’s a loss to our community, to our state and our country that he’s gone.”

(McCrea) His family says Chris loved his Marine Corps experience, and planned to make it a career.

Marine Corporal Christopher DeGiovine leaves his father of Essex Junction and his wife of 2 years, Rachel Young.

For VPR News, I’m Lynne McCrea.

Note: Visiting hours will be held Friday at the A.W. Rich funeral home in Essex Junction from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9.

A mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday morning at 11 in the Chapel at St. Michael’s College.

Burial will be in the Fort Ethan Allen Cemetery in Colchester.

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