December 14, 2010

Marine's Death compounds family's grief

Union Leader Correspondent
Cpl. Michael Geary
DERRY -- On Wednesday, Nancy Geary will stand bravely and watch as her son, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Geary, is honored, in a quiet, solemn military tribute known as a Dignified Transfer, after his body arrives here from Dover Air Force Base.
Afterward, she will make the arduous journey from the airport to Derry, arriving at Pinkerton Academy where her son was a 2009 graduate. As the car
 carrying his remains passes by, honor guards from Derry Fire Department and Pinkerton’s ROTC will assemble, shoulder to shoulder, flags waving, in a posthumous and inadequate thankyou for his ultimate sacrifice. 

Geary, a dedicated Marine serving with Fox Company 2/9 in Afghanistan, was killed in combat Dec. 8 while serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Above all else, he was a fiercely loyal son who appreciated his mother’s hard work and sacrifice. From the age of 14 he knew he wanted to serve his country. Within a month of graduation, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, learning
 the ropes of boot camp. Yesterday Geary’s uncle, Angus Douglas, was fielding calls and e-mails about final arrangements, doing whatever he could to help. He said the family is trying to comfort Geary’s mother, who has suffered terribly in the last few weeks. 

“She lost her job at Elliot Hospital right before Thanksgiving. Then, the day before Thanksgiving, she lost her mom, who’d been suffering with lung cancer. And then, Michael,” said Douglas. “So we’re just trying to be there for her. She’s being so strong right now. She just wants to see Michael.” Geary’s grandmother, Louise Buiting, was diagnosed with lung cancer just before her grandson was deployed, said Douglas. 
“We had a deal that we weren’t going to tell him if she died while he was in harm’s way. We were going to break it to him when he got back home, which was supposed to be six weeks from now,” Douglas said. Instead the two, who had a close bond, died without knowing the other’s fate. 
He said the family has seen more than its share of hardship — Nancy Geary’s father, Joseph Buiting, died when his children were young; she lost a brother prematurely, as well. 
“Nancy was as wrapped up in her child as a mother can be. She’s had a ton of hardship to get through,” Douglas said. “My wife — Nancy’s sister — kind of felt like having already lost their grandmother, somehow, Michael would stay safe. It didn’t seem possible that God would take Michael, too. It’s been a real struggle of faith for everyone.” Douglas received word that two fellow Marines — Staff Sgt. Jose Vera, who recruited Geary, and Lance Cpl. Jeremy Levesque, a classmate of Geary’s, will both attend the funeral as pall bearers. 
“Michael helped recruit Jeremy. I just heard his sergeant gave him his orders, to return home so that he can be a pall bearer for Michael,” Douglas said. “And Sgt. Vera had mentored Michael. He’d talked to him about becoming a recruiter. Michael told him he couldn’t leave yet, he said he had a mission to accomplish first.” 
Calling hours are Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Peabody Funeral Homes and Crematorium, 290 Mammoth Road, Londonderry. A funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Friday at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 26 Crystal Ave., Derry. Burial with military honors will follow in the New Hampshire State Veteran’s Cemetery, Boscawen. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675-8517. 

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