Soldier from Pelham remembered for self-sacrifice
Dan Gionet's mom, Denise Gionet of Pelham, sits in front of baby pictures of Dan and of Ella, the daughter he never knew existed when he died in Iraq in June 2006. (Union Leader file)
"He always had the biggest heart, the biggest smile, and would give you the shirt off his back whether he knew you or not," recalls longtime friend Gregg Gelinas of New Boston.
As it has with other fallen heroes before him, this is how New Hampshire will ensure that Gionet's name is remembered through the ages.
He - and his family - never knew he had a child, a daughter born to a former girlfriend.
Ella Gionet, who has her daddy's eyes and smile, will be in Pelham for the 1 p.m. ceremony next Sunday. It's her 8th birthday.
Among those who can't wait to meet Ella is Ashley Gelinas, Dan's lifelong friend. The kids grew up together when their families lived in Lowell, Mass., before Dan and his mother moved to Pelham.
Over the years, Gelinas and her husband, Gregg, stayed close with Dan. Both of them were firefighters, and Gionet talked about maybe joining the fire service when he got out of the military. After he re-enlisted, he trained as a medic.
Sethre was with Gionet when the IED went off on June 4, 2006. Their lieutenant was killed and Gionet was critically wounded.
But, Sethre recalled, "He was already outside the tank with his aid bag and he was trying to help other soldiers that were injured."
"He looked up at me and my other medic and he said, '...I'm so happy you're here.' He just had the biggest smile on his face.
The years since Dan's death have been rough, Sethre admitted, but he's doing better now. "That's why this trip is a big positive step forward for me."
"He made the ultimate sacrifice."
For Ashley Gelinas, losing her childhood friend in war has made Memorial Day more meaningful. "A lot of people think it's just an extra day off. It's not," she said. "It's that day off to reflect on who is not here."
And, she said, "I can't wait to have my daughter and his daughter be able to play together like we did.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- George Will: Regulatory overkill everywhere - 0
- Another View -- Marilinda Garcia: Ann Kuster loves Obamacare but won't pay for it - 33
- John Stossel: Earth Day is more like Earth Daze - 3
- Drew Cline: Rand Paul's coalition vs. Ted Cruz's army - 5
- Another View -- Jeff Goley and Will Infantine: Time for an increase in weekly benefits for NH unemployed - 4
- George Will: Understanding our divisions - 0
- Jonah Goldberg: Attorney General Eric Holder's race card - 0
- Another View -- Bobby Jindal: NH should trust parents to choose schools - 14
- Charles Arlinghaus: A $400 million hole was just blown in the state budget - 5
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Garry Rayno's State House Dome: It's time to make legislative sausage - 0
- Memory of bombings remains vivid for those who were there - 0
- Ted Siefer's City Hall: No power play in aldermanic chambers, mayor in good spirits - 1
- On Baseball: Locke pitches game in minor league rehab - 0
- NH's top prospects happy to be part of Boston - 0
- Relative newcomers vie for Boston title - 0
- NH College Notebook: Franklin Pierce's King named to 18U coaching staff - 0
- Andy Schachat's On the Run: New Hampshire makes a big deal about Boston Marathon - 0
- Another View - Ahad Fazelat: How Medicare reimbursement numbers are misleading - 0
Man electrocuted at Keene brush fire
A cellphone ban: Ignoring inconvenient data
Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: Restaurant owner faces up to challenge of Obamacare
'He is risen': 'As he said'
Havenstein: 'I'm a pro-choice Republican'