MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- Law enforcement officers from throughout the area joined other mourners Saturday at the Protestant Chapel and paid their respects to San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Gariepy.
Gariepy, a retired gunnery sergeant, died June 22 as a result of a vehicle accident in Yucca Valley. He was 39.
Gariepy, who was with the department for two years, was killed in a vehicle accident while on his way to help another deputy, according to witnesses. He was ejected from his vehicle when it overturned. Paramedics transported him to Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree, where he was pronounced dead at 5:54 a.m. Sheriff’s officials are investigating the cause of the crash but have not announced their findings.
Along with his legacy, Gariepy left behind his wife Mishelle and three children, Annette Chancellor and Brett and Brooke Gariepy.
He frequently returned to the Combat Center to take part in safety briefs.
As a motorcade of ambulances, fire engines and patrol cars filled every parking space around the parade deck, mourners filed into the Protestant Chapel to pay respects to the Marine who felt compelled to defend his country at a different level. His flag-draped casket displayed the symbol of a true leader among the sea of uniformed personnel during the service. A portrait next to his casket displayed a younger Greg wearing Marine Corps woodland camouflage utilities.
"Greg was one of those guys who could be counted on to volunteer for the toughest assignments–drill instructor, sniper, girl’s softball coach," said Kerry Keyes, a longtime friend of Gariepy whom he met as a young Marine stationed in Hawaii. "That wasn’t enough for him. He went on to serve his country more."
Gariepy was described as a mentor to young Marines who would go to him with a problem. In the end they would walk away with a solution. He was a competitive man with compassion for everything he did and always set the example.
"As a person, Marine, husband, father, through and through, Greg was a leader," said Keyes. "As a Marine he led a highly disciplined unit and did so as well with the sheriff’s department. Greg was loved by everyone who knew him. The man virtually had no enemies. He understood the meaning of leadership. His people loved him and respected him."
Keyes said his friend set out to achieve a greater milestone in life after retiring from the Corps. He is now encouraged to live each day to its fullest as Gariepy’s death is an example of how anyone could go at any time.
"Semper Fidelis, Greg," said Keyes as he stared into the open casket. "I can just see you now with that great smile on your face and a perfectly styled gray flat top."
Funeral attendants gathered on the parade deck to end the service. A San Bernardino helicopter flew over Gariepy’s casket putting a smile on his wife’s face. As the gun salute echoed throughout the Combat Center, uniformed personnel, Marines, Sailors, firefighters and law enforcement saluted.
"Today we gather to remember one of us," said Sheriff Gary Penrod." Greg demonstrated that being a warrior is not what you do it’s who you are. If you didn’t know Greg - you now know of him."