BEAUFORT -- More than 200 people -- including upward of 100 active-duty Marines, sailors, and airmen -- crammed into the chapel at Marine Corps Air Station on Thursday to say goodbye to a man described by many as an American hero.
Capt. Garrett Tucker Lawton,a Beaufort-born Marine, died Aug. 4 of wounds suffered in an improvised explosive device attack in the western Afghan province of Herat.
Many who attended the service -- servicemen and civilians alike -- wiped tears from their eyes as Trisha Lawton,Garrett Lawton's widow, stepped to the lectern and carefully unfolded a yellow piece of paper, reading aloud a note she hoped never to write.
"I'll always be proud to be the wife of a United States Marine," she said, fighting back tears. "He was the type of man who always gave me everything I needed. He was my soul mate."Trish and Garrett Lawton were married for eight years, and have two sons, Ryan, 6, and Caden, 4.
Those who knew Lawton held him in the highest esteem, said his sister, Kenna Hubai.
"He was the best human being I've ever known," she said. "It seems like everyone always has wonderful things to say about people when they die, even if they're not all true, but it is true for Garrett. He was a wonderful man, father, husband, son, brother and Marine."
Those who eulogized Lawton spoke of his compassion, his dedication to his friends and family, and his sense of humor, which included a story from a college friend who spoke of frequent hallway fire-extinguisher battles and the time when Lawton requested that someone punch him in the face to ensure that he was tough enough for the Corps. Lawton graduated from the University of West Virginia in 1999 with degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering.
Lawton served as an F-18 weapons and sensors officer and an air officer with 2nd Marine Special Operations Batallion,cq stationed out of Camp LeJeune, N.C.
Born in Beaufort but only residing here until he was 4, Lawton returned to the Lowcountry in 2003, when he was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort with the Bengals of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 244. He saw one combat deployment to Al Asad, Iraq, out of MCAS Beaufort and was promoted to captain while in Beaufort, according to the air station. Lawton joined Special Operations Battalion in February 2007, the Corps said.
Lawton was twice awarded the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat -- one for the incident that resulted in his death, and another for injuries he sustained in an IED attack in May.
Lawton's body will be cremated and his ashes spread at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
-- From Staff Reports