John Dawson

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Army CPL. John M. Dawson.

Army CPL. John M. Dawson

Died April 8, 2015 Serving During Operation Freedom’s Sentinel

22, of Whitinsville, Mass., died April 8 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire while on an escort mission. He was a combat medic assigned to the First Squadron, 33d Cavalry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

An outpouring of emotion, memories at soldier’s funeral

Army CPL. John M. Dawson
John M. Dawson

UPTON — Bagpipes wailed in the background as dozens of soldiers and veterans with the Patriot Guard Riders stood in the rain outside St. Gabriel the Archangel Church Monday morning, clutching towering poles topped with drenched American flags.

A casket bearing the body of Army Corporal John M. Dawson, who was killed in Afghanistan on April 8, was carried into the church by a six-member honor guard.

Dawson, 22, died in Jalalabad after an Afghan National Army soldier “turned traitor” fired at the group of US soldiers at the provincial governor’s compound in eastern Afghanistan. Dawson was hit by small-arms fire. Other soldiers were also wounded that day. His fellow servicemen gave Dawson’s family his personal belongings, which included a dog tag that read, “Greater love has no other than this, than to lay down your life for your friends.” The back of the dog tag read, “In memory of an American hero.” “You will always be our hero, John,” said the slain soldier’s father, Michael Dawson, after reciting the phrase from his dog tag.

Several people wiped away tears as Dawson spoke. “Thank you for the 22 years you provided us.” Eulogizing his son, Dawson said, “If you knew John, you knew a respectable, kind, caring, thoughtful, smart, witty, and fun kid.”
John Dawson, who grew up in Northbridge, was as an “old soul . . . old school,” Major General Steve Townsend of the 18th Airborne Corps said during the service, adding that he loved the Patriots, Bruins, flip cellphones, cigar magazines, the stock market, and conspiracy theories. Townsend said that anytime something happened to the platoon Dawson would “scream about a conspiracy theory,” adding that one soldier joked that “only Dawson can actually make it sound real.”

Townsend shared stories he heard from soldiers who knew Dawson, including the time he entered a soldier’s room spraying silly string. The soldier was angry until he realized it was Dawson.

Then there was the time Dawson just got a new pair of sunglasses. He told everyone the glasses could see through the water and to the fish below, Townsend said. Dawson tried to demonstrate that and the glasses fell from his face into the water. His team got a good laugh.

Army CPL. John M. Dawson
Army CPL. John M. Dawson

Another soldier, who had experienced a death in his family, struggled with the omnipresent death that came from being in the Army and on the streets of Afghanistan. Dawson helped him work through it. “‘I am now and forever will be a better man because of Dawson,’ ” Townsend recalled the soldier tell him.

“Some people say sports stars are heroes, some say movie stars are heroes. . . . My heroes are the 20-something year-old Americans who wear the uniform of American law enforcement,” Townsend said. “He was doing what he loved.”

The young soldier had a favorite quote, Townsend said: “It’s the journey not the destination that matters.”

Dawson was a combat medic assigned to the First Squadron, 33d Cavalry Regiment, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, according to the Department of Defense. He trained for service at Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio; and Fort Campbell, Ky.

The Rev. Michael Broderick, formerly of St. Patrick’s Parish in Whitinsville, said Dawson was an active member of the Young Neighbors in Action. He was also cycling enthusiast who rode with the 10th Gear Christian Bicycle Group. Broderick said that Dawson had “a mischievous sense of fun,” adding that he would often jump into pictures being taken and was “photobombing before photobombing was trending.”

He went on to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay and Quinsigamond Community College before enlisting in the Army in 2012.


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