Sunday, May 06, 2007

Local Marine killed in Poland

Matthew Munsey thought the two Marines who pulled up in front of his Cape St. Claire home April 24 were there to recruit.

After all, his 16-year-old son Jacob planned to follow his older brother's footsteps and join the Marine Corps someday. It was going on 8 p.m., a little late for visitors, but Mr. Munsey couldn't think of any other reason they'd be there.

The men weren't interested in recruiting though. They told Mr. Munsey they needed to speak with him and his wife, Loretta Lawson-Munsey about something very important - and it involved their eldest son.

"I thought, what the hell, he's in Poland," Mr. Munsey said. "Is he AWOL or something? Has he gotten into any trouble?"

The parents weren't prepared for what they heard next: their 28-year-old son had been found dead outside a Warsaw night club three days earlier.

Aaron Corban Lawson, of Arnold, was found lying on theground outside the club around 9 a.m. April 21. He had a fatal blow to the left side of his head, and his pockets had been emptied.

The time of death and exactly what happened that night is unknown at this time.

But Polish authorities have deemed the death a homicide, and it is under joint investigation with the FBI and American Embassy. Polish police are talking to a woman who worked in the night club, who some say was acquainted with Mr. Lawson. They said they are trying to track down anyone who may have been with the man that night.

Mr. Lawson, a world traveler, had gone to Poland by himself.

The Marine reservist was a business partner with his friend Sam White, who he met in the Marine Corps. Their business SAMRON International Inc. - a combination of Sam and Aaron - is opening the Sunshine House Assisted Living Facility in Odenton this month. Mr. Lawson went to Poland to recruit anyone interested in working for his business, Mr. Munsey said.

"He wanted them (Polish workers) to come over for a positive experience," he said. "That's why he was there. And he went to this night club. It was a bad idea."

Mr. White told the family he will put total effort into running the business exactly as he and Mr. Lawson had planned. The assisted living facility was scheduled to open next week.

Marine life

Born and raised in Annapolis, Mr. Lawson always planned to join the U. S. Naval Academy.

But while in his teens, he changed his mind and instead, wanted to join the Marine Corps, his mother said.

Mr. Lawson served as an anti-tank/assaultman for the U. S. Marine Corps from 1997 to 2001.

The Broadneck High School graduate was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps after serving four years on active duty with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Infantry and last year fulfilled his dream of becoming a sergeant with the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company 5th Marine Division.

"He wasn't any old Marine, he was an infantry Marine," Mrs. Lawson-Munsey said. "He was so proud."

Until his death, he was part of a Marine reserve unit in Alabama.

"He was going to get deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan sometime (between) June and January," Mr. Munsey said. "I think he was aware of his pending deployment and was really spending time doing stuff he wanted to do."

World traveler

Mr. Lawson loved to pick up and go, according to longtime best friend and roommate Andrew Chambless.

"We had this motto. It was 'do it, to it,' " Mr. Chambless said. "What we basically meant by that was to maximize every moment you can in life. That's something that I saw in Aaron. He tried to make the most of every moment - to live life to the fullest. I really think that he did."

He said some people have to follow a schedule, "but not with Aaron."

Mr. Lawson traveled so much, in fact, that he had to get another passport.

"There wasn't any more room for stamps," Mr. Munsey said.

Beau Breeden, a friend of Mr. Lawson for 18 years, said he didn't worry about his friend when he traveled.

"He traveled enough to know where he should have gone and where he shouldn't have gone," he said. "He would just travel, come back, and we'd get together for a beer. I'd hear stories of where he went. Honestly, I was more worried about him being a Marine than in Europe and traveling."

Family man

Although Mr. Lawson left a lot to travel and get away, he maintained a close relationship with his family and friends.

The eldest of six children, Mr. Lawson shared a special bond with his 13-year-old sister Madison.

"They were like two peas in a pod," Mrs. Lawson-Munsey said.

He was protective of his siblings, ages 26, 16, 13, and 8-year-old twins, and would always stand up for them.

"He was always there for them and looking out for them," Mr. Breeden said.

Mr. Lawson had an "undying love" for his parents, Mr. Chambless said.

And he tried to be a good father to his 2-year-old son Gabriel, who lives in the Netherlands with his mother.

"He always said how he was going to take care of Gabriel," Mrs. Lawson-Munsey said. "He wished and hoped it wouldn't have to be long-distance. That was very sad for him."

Mr. Lawson was an active member of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis. He even had a tattoo of one of the church's stained-glass windows on his leg.

He also had many friends in the Annapolis area, including several employees of Pusser's Annapolis Pub and Restaurant, where he worked as a doorman for several years. His brother and sister work at the restaurant now.

The family plans a celebration of Mr. Lawson's life at Pusser's Tuesday, following his funeral service.