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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hundreds celebrate Atkinson Marine's life

From the Eagle Tribune;

July 23, 2011
Hundreds celebrate Atkinson Marine's life
By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

ATKINSON — There were a few tears, many smiles and even a little humor yesterday as approximately 450 people honored Marine Maj. Jeremy Graczyk.

Graczyk, "a Marine's Marine," would have wanted it that way.

The crowd packed the pews and the grounds of Atkinson Congregational Church to say farewell to a man celebrated for his character, intelligence, spirit and love of life.

Graczyk was killed in a BASE jumping accident July 12 while off duty in Switzerland.

"We knew he was special, just not how special," said James Graczyk, standing near his son's flag-draped coffin.

He eulogized his 33-year-old son, as did two of the Marine's military comrades. Each spoke of his successes as a leader and a human being.

James Graczyk brought some humor to what was a solemn ceremony that began with a police-led procession and included military honors. He said his son was boisterous, daring, loved loud music and was a bad singer often called "Crazy Uncle Jeremy" by his young nephews.

Jeremy Graczyk enjoyed rock climbing, motorcycles, skiing, skydiving and traveling the world. He died in an accident while BASE jumping, the extreme sport of parachuting from fixed objects like buildings, antenna towers, bridge spans and mountains.

He persuaded his father to accompany him on faraway fishing trips. "There was not much left unsaid between my son and I," he said.

But there was one thing — asking Jeremy to speak at his funeral someday.

"I never thought the roles would be reversed," James Graczyk said.

Jeremy Graczyk, Timberlane Regional High School's valedictorian in 1995 and a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, knew as a middle school student he wanted to join the military, his father said.

"We quickly realized this was no passing fancy," he said. "Jeremy loved the Marine Corps as a parent loves a child. ... He was a Marine's Marine and a true warrior."

James Graczyk and others who spoke during the two-hour service asked the crowd not to grieve for his son, but to celebrate his life. "Live your life to the fullest and don't let grief overcome you," he said. "We will remember him always in our memory."

Fellow Marine Kent Kroeker said he and Graczyk joked about the possibility they could be killed in battle.

"We have been composing our eulogies as long as we have known each other," Kroeker said.

The high-spirited Graczyk was always on the go, a true human being and leader who could do anything, he said.

"For one moment in his entire life, he never stopped moving," Kroeker said. "On duty or off — it didn't matter. He was always on a mission."

Another friend, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Mahoney, spoke of Graczyk's leadership skills and how even in heaven, he would lead God's "elite corps of angels."

"Like all of us, God gave Jeremy many gifts," he said. "Jeremy grew into a remarkable leader."

Mahoney called Graczyk "one of America's legendary legionnaires." Anyone in a tough situation should just ask themselves, "What would Jeremy do?" he said.

Nearly 200 people filled the church, about 250 others sat outside beneath three big tents in the blistering 100-degree heat. Large fans and speakers were set up for the benefit of those who could not be inside.

Gov. John Lynch, who was at the funeral, ordered all flags in the state be lowered to half-staff yesterday in Graczyk's honor.

Graczyk, who was well decorated during his 12-year military career, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his father, Graczyk is survived by his mother, Darlene, and a sister, Jennifer Sakash.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

As a Veteran, father and lover of this Country, I am deeply saddened by the loss of such a nice man who gave so much of himself to his Country so we might remain free. We take it for granted and fight over things that are trivial in comparison to the things that the Major fought for so we have the right to say them. Let's think about him before we go and make comments that are injurous to others. My prayers go out to his entire family that they may be proud of his accomplishments and know that he is in a better place. Rest in Peace.

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