Victims leave memories of motivation

"Mom, I'm sorry I ever disappointed you. Dad, I hope that I've become a man in your eyes and that whatever I do in life, you are proud of me." Matthew La Porte, from a Carson Long Military Institute yearbook

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Of The Patriot-News

NEW BLOOMFIELD - As word of the massacre at Virginia Tech spread, students, faculty and staff at Carson Long Military Institute waited to hear from Matthew La Porte.

When Monday ended without an e-mail from the 2005 graduate, they feared the worst.

"I think we all expected Matt to send word that he was all right and tell us what was going on," said Garry Hallman, an instructor at the school who had kept in touch with La Porte.

Just after midnight Monday, school officials learned that he was among those killed in the massacre at Virginia Tech. He had been shot during French class.

Hallman said he will remember La Porte for his "jovial character" and "quiet sense of humor."

"He had an inner confidence that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to," Hallman said.

La Porte came to Carson Long in 1999 as a seventh-grader, something he wrote about in his senior yearbook.

"Indeed, in September 1999, a troubled boy found himself here, thinking his parents should have given him a second chance. He thought he would not make it here, but he was stuck, so he had to make the best of the situation," La Porte wrote. "He began to make friends -- real friends. He learned how to be responsible for himself and eventually for others."

La Porte thanked his parents, Barbara and Joe La Porte of Dumont, N.J., for sending him to the academy.

"Mom, I'm sorry I ever disappointed you," La Porte wrote. "Dad, I hope that I've become a man in your eyes and that whatever I do in life, you are proud of me."

About 230 students in sixth through 12th grades attend Carson Long.

At the school, La Porte participated in the glee club, sports and the drum and bugle corps. He was the drum major his senior year.

La Porte attended Virginia Tech on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He was a sophomore majoring in political science.

His goal, friends said, was to work in Air Force intelligence. He was a drummer in the military marching band, loved rock music and ran and lifted weights every day.

"He was average size, but a workout warrior," said Ray Calilung, who, along with La Porte, was a cadet in the Air Force Special Operations Prep Team at Virginia Tech. "If he could have gotten out of that [French] classroom, he would. He would have dived out a window. It would have taken a bullet to stop him."

Rodney P. Grove, commandant of students at Carson Long, said one lesson La Porte learned at the school was how to work toward his goals.

"Matt knew what he wanted and he knew how to get there," Grove said. "He realized that education was the way to achieve his goals."

Grove said the school plans a memorial service for La Porte.

The Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger contributed to this report.

JOE ELIAS: 255-8115 or

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