story & photos
by Jessica Warzeniak
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Marine Lance Corporal Tyler Owen Griffin returned home to Voluntown, on Monday, April 12. The motorcade, escorted by State Police, Patriot Guard Riders, Leathernecks and Freedom Riders, was greeted by hundreds of townspeople along the route from T.F. Green Airport to Gagne-Piechowski Funeral Home, Jewett City to honor the fallen Marine.
At the funeral home, Young Marines from the Quinebaug Valley, Three Rivers, and Natchaug River chapters gave out American flags. As the procession approached, the Young Marines, ages 8 through high school, stretched a large flag across the street, displaying it at an angle so the motorcade could see it as it turned into the funeral home.
Voluntown residents, Lorie Lavalee and Heidi Dugas held up a Marine Corp flag in honor of Tyler. “It’s the most beautiful flag there is,” said Lorie, “besides the American flag.”
Dan Bargnesi, Norwich, a former Staff Sargeant in the Air Force, came out to pay his respects to Tyler and his family. “He’s one of us – like my son. He died for all of us. A lot of people don’t believe, that but I do.”
State Representative Chris Coutu, an officer in the Army National Guard and founder of AmericanWarrior, and his wife, Neringa, came to show their support. “I’ve been in the military for 16 years and there are not many occasions like this that you get to wear the uniform. I am honored to be able to wear it for Lance Corporal Tyler Griffin,” said Chris, a champion for veterans, “It was a great turnout showing that the community can really pull together.”
The procession was the first of three days of remembrances to honor Tyler. Hundreds more attended a public wake on Tuesday, April 13th. The funeral was held at Voluntown Baptist Church on Wednesday, April 14th. The 100-seat church was packed with friends, family and dignitaries, including Governor M. Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, while hundreds more listened outside via loudspeaker. A public reception was held after the funeral at Constitution Field, Voluntown.
Tyler was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, April 19th. He was one month into his deployment when he was killed by and IED while fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan. Tyler saved another Marine before he died from his injuries.
From April 19th-23rd, the Voluntown Police Department started a collection for care package items to send to Tyler’s unit at Camp Lejune, Afghanistan.