Corporal Mark Evnin mourned in Burlington

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(Host) Hundreds of mourners joined state officials and a military honor guard for a memorial service in Burlington Monday for Mark Evnin. Speaking at Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, Evnin’s friends and family told stories of a generous and fun loving young man.

As a boy, Evnin always wanted to wear a uniform. Corporal Evnin was wearing the uniform of the United States Marines when he died April 3 in a firefight south of Baghdad.

VPR’s Steve Zind has this remembrance:

(Zind) Flowers and photographs cover the table at Mindy Evnin’s South Burlington condominium.

(Evnin) “These are just some pictures of him at school over the years…”

(Zind) The pictures show a chunky, sandy haired boy who turned into a muscular marine after Evnin entered basic training three years ago. The only child of divorced parents, Evnin dressed in camouflage even as a little boy. He was always fascinated by uniforms and technology. Mindy Evnin says at the start of his senior year, Mark announced he had enough credits to finish high school a semester early and join the marines.

(Evnin) “He wanted to prove to himself that he could do what the tough men do. And he was very proud of himself for having done it.”

(Zind) At South Burlington High School, the flag has been lowered to half staff. A memorial table in the lobby displays photos of Evnin, who was a member of the class of 2000. Tim Comolli was one of Evnin’s teachers. They grew close during a long illness, when Camolli was laid up at home. Evnin visited him daily, bringing mail, sometimes meals, then sticking around to talk and joke.

Evnin wasn’t an academic whiz, or a star athlete. He made his mark in other ways. Comolli says Evnin often spent time helping younger students. He showed unusual patience and sympathy for those who were having a difficult time.

(Comolli) “He was a perfect example of what a teacher should be and I tried to sucker him into being a teacher numerous times.”

(Zind) But Comolli says there was never any question that Evnin would enlist in the military. Mark Evnin looked forward to shipping out to the Persian Gulf as a scout and sniper with Third Batallion, First Marine Division based in Twenty-Nine Palms, California. While he waited for the war to begin, he passed the time immersed in the fantasy world of Harry Potter.

But Mindy Evnin says her son had a clear-eyed view of the real world, gained from travelling on overseas business trips with his father.

(Evnin) “So, he’s been around some and I think he has a better perspective on the world at large and that it’s a complicated place. And it’s not like ‘the good guys’ and ‘the bad guys’, necessarily, it’s all mixed up.”

(Zind) Mindy Evnin says in his last letter to her, Mark said he was thinking of studying international relations after he got out of the marines, and he asked her to look around for a good school.

Monday, Mark Evnin was buried. Hundreds of South Burlington High students stood quietly as the funeral procession passed the school on it’s way to the Hebrew Society Cemetery. There, on a warming spring day, in a traditional Jewish ceremony with full military honors, Evnin was buried under the lone white pine.

(Zind) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in South Burlington.

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