In honor of their son Larry, the Philippon family has donated $3,705 from his memorial scholarship to help change the lives of 15 children in the Middle East, where Larry served and died.
Our son, Larry, had a beautiful smile and on May 8, 2005, his smile and life was taken by direct fire from an enemy machine gun in Iraq. One of our last conversations with Larry was about how sad the living conditions were for families and children in Iraq. Larry expressed how good it was when he was able to make the children smile.
Over the years, Operation Smile has been on our hearts. Last year, we raised $1,680 over what was needed for Larry's memorial scholarship and donated it to Operation Smile on behalf of the West Hartford Community and the family and friends of our son, Lance Corporal Lawrence Philippon.
This year, we raised $2,025 for Operation Smile, bringing the total to 15 new smiles for children in need. We feel that Operation Smile would be so very appropriate to keep our son's smile alive.
Larry Philippon entered into this world at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, on March 20, 1983. Larry liked to remind us that it took two Army personnel to create one Marine. When he was 6-months-old, we brought him home to West Hartford, CT.
If one word was allowed to describe Larry, it would be “smile.” He was filled with boundless energy and his antics supplied much laughter throughout his life.
Larry was a natural athlete. He participated and excelled in baseball, soccer, football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse. His favorite sports number was 33 and he chose that for his athletic jerseys. We had told him that was a great choice as it was the age of Christ when he gave his life for us.
When Larry was in middle school, he was recruited to be a hockey goalie for his freshman year at Conard High School. By his sophomore year, he was the starting goalie and retained that position through the rest of his high school career. As goalie, he was selected as Hartford Courant All State Honorable Mention. He led his team to the quarter finals of the Division One Hockey Tournament in CT. He also took up lacrosse and turned out to be a great, fast defenseman.
Larry graduated Conard in 2001 and entered Central CT University on September 5. On September 11, 2001, a seed to serve his country was planted in Larry’s heart. He stayed in school but became very restless.
On May 19, 2003, Larry left for Parris Island to become a Marine. We were very grateful when basic training ended and Larry announced that he was to serve at Marine Barracks 8th and I in Washington, D.C. At this duty station, Larry trained as a guidon bearer and color guard.
Among his duties, he served at Arlington National Cemetery and as a body bearer at Dover AFB. He toured the United States with the Silent Drill team and he was the Marine Barracks guidon bearer in President Ronald Reagan’s funeral procession.
During his time at Marine Barracks, Larry constantly requested to be reassigned to a unit that was going to Iraq. Finally, in October 2004, his request was honored. In January of 2005, Larry received his orders to report to Camp Lejeune. On February 20, our precious son boarded a bus to go to war. It is necessary to note that when his rife was issued to him on that night, the number it bore was #33.
Larry called home when he could and remarked on the beautiful sunrises and sunsets of Iraq. He told of the horrible conditions that the women and children of Iraq had to endure. He loved that he could make the children smile.
On May 8, 2005, Mother’s Day and our 24th wedding anniversary, Larry became part of Operation Matador. He had been assigned the job of team leader but had expressed his dismay of that position. He did not like the idea of appointing anyone to go into danger. On this day, Larry appointed himself as point man. God called his name that day and he took insurgent machine gun fire to the face upon entry into an Iraqi house. His actions saved the lives of two fellow Marines and a Corpsman. For this heroic act, Larry received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor.
Before Larry left for Iraq, his peers at 8th and I Barracks had told him, "Do not make us come and get you at Dover." An entire bus of his fellow Marines went to Dover to escort his body from the Angel Flight. The ceremony of honor that was given to Larry at Arlington was truly a gift from their hearts. Volunteers from the Marine Barracks lined York Street of Section 60 to pay their tribute to their friend and fellow Marine.
Larry left behind a very special sister, Emilee, and loving brother, Bryan. He was always a hero to them even prior to his military service. He left us all many precious memories of love and laughter that carry us through each day. Our love for him grows even stronger as time passes.
Larry loved being a Marine and to the end he said it was the best choice that he ever made. His smile shines brightly in our hearts forever.
It is our hope that through the donations to Operation Smile from The Lance Corporal Lawrence R. Philippon Memorial Scholarship, life-changing operations will be answers to prayers and Larry's desire to make the children smile will live on.
- Leesa Philippon, Larry's mother
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