Chicago Marine Killed in Afghanistan

Cpl. Conner Lowry was a graduate of Brother Rice High School

By Jeff Goldblatt, Natalie Martinez and Don Babwin
|  Friday, Mar 2, 2012  |  Updated 9:26 PM CDT
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A United States Marine from the Chicago area was killed this week in Afghanistan amid the rising attacks on American military personnel in that country. Cpl. Conner Lowry, a 24-year-old graduate of Brother Rice High School, was a gunner on a Humvee when he was killed. The family said Lowry was electrocuted. Lowry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Department of Defense said Friday. Natalie Martinez spoke with his those who knew him.

A United States Marine from the Chicago area was killed this week in Afghanistan amid the rising attacks on American military personnel in that country. Cpl. Conner Lowry, a 24-year-old graduate of Brother Rice High School, was a gunner on a Humvee when he was killed. The family said Lowry was electrocuted. Lowry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Department of Defense said Friday. Natalie Martinez spoke with his those who knew him.

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A United States Marine from the Chicago area was killed this week in Afghanistan amid the rising attacks on American military personnel in that country.

Cpl. Conner Lowry, a 24-year-old graduate of Brother Rice High School, was a gunner on a Humvee when he was killed. The family said Lowry was electrocuted.

"Conner was doing what he believed in, and that was fighting for us, for our country," said his friend, Owen Yanz.

Lowry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Department of Defense said.

On Friday, his mother and younger sister remembered how even as he was getting ready to leave he tried to protect them as best he could, even if it meant saying something he couldn't possibly believe himself.  
 
"I was pretty upset and he saw that (so) he said, 'Grace, don't worry, I'm just going to guard some gate in Europe, I probably won't see any combat,'" said 17-year-old Grace Lavin.

A lifelong resident of Chicago's South Side, Lowry as a boy was, like a lot of the city's kids, a huge fan of Notre Dame sports and he couldn't get enough of Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordon.

"His life revolved around Michael Jordan," said Modie Lavin, his mother. "He had Michael Jordan shoes, shorts, socks, everything."

She said her son, at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, was a "decent athlete," playing football Brother Rice High School, a prominent Catholic high school on the South Side.

Inside his old Beverly neighborhood bedroom, Lowry's uncle showed off his nephew's beat up guitar, huge sneakers and dress blues.

"He was just a great guy," said the uncle, Kevin Lavin. "You couldn't ask for a better person."

Lowry went to college in Iowa and after a couple of years decided to enlist in the Marines with a couple of buddies.

"He thought it would be good for him, he thought it would be good for his country," his mother said, adding that she was stunned at the news.

She said that hers is not a military family and that she could think of no one who had served.

"I just told him, 'Please don't,'" she said. 

And yet she watched him turn into "an outstanding Marine," saying "He got lots of accolades, a big award at Camp Pendleton."

At St. John Fisher, Lowry's former elementary school, Sister Jean McGrath called the former student "the go-to guy." In the hallway, his 2002 high school graduation picture is adorned with a red, white and blue ribbon. Outside, students decorated trees with red, white and blue bows.

Lowry's grade school yearbook says he wanted to be an NBA coach or a sportscaster.

Lowry had been a Marine for nearly three years and had just four months to go before being discharged, the family said.

Lavin said Lowry's body will return to the United States on Saturday afternoon. St. John Fisher has offered to host the wake and funeral likely to be held Wednesday and Thursday.

The Marine is survived by his mother, two sisters and two brothers.
 
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the Marine's rank. We regret the error.

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