Hardwick Mourns Loss Of Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
08/26/10 7:34AM By Charlotte Albright  Download MP3
(Host) The mood is somber this week at Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, as teachers prepare to help returning students cope with the news that a popular 2007 graduate, Tristan Southworth, was killed during a firefight in Afghanistan over the week-end.
VPR's Charlotte Albright reports.
(Albright) Ever since the news broke earlier this week, about how 21-year old Tristan Southworth was killed during a fierce gun battle against insurgents in Afghanistan, media stories have been praising Southworth's athleticism.
But his basketball coach, Aaron Hill, says the young man from Walden, Vermont was much more than a good student and athlete:
(Hill) "He was an amazing giver. He very rarely accepted praise without deflecting some of it or all of it to other people. He always took time out of his day to acknowledge everyone. For example if he saw me walking down the street with my children he always, always went out of his way to say hello to me but also to the kids, and if that meant leaving, you know, his little group of high school kids that he was with, he always acknowledged you if he saw you. He was quite a kid."
(Albright)In a much larger sense, Tristran Southworth did leave what Hill calls his little group of high school kids when, before graduation, he joined the National Guard. In fact, he chose to be photographed for the yearbook in uniform.
Hazen High School principal Elaine Laine says the other students were proud of him for wanting to serve his country, but they will no doubt be shattered when they return to classes, and have to start planning his memorial. And she says Tristan's family -his parents and two brothers-are understandably devastated.
(Laine) "I do know from yesterday that the parents are having a very very difficult time as any parent would, but understanding that when someone does go into the military that they are going to put their life in harm's way."
(Albright) Teachers at Hazen High say that while they are shocked and stunned by the news that both Southworth and fellow Vermont Guardsman Steven Deluzio died.
Students will begin school next Monday with a remembrance of him, and Principal Laine says she expects there will be a memorial service later on.
For VPR News, I'm Charlotte Albright in Hardwick.