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For two Massachusetts families, the Afghan war comes home

Erin Vasselian learned of the death of her husband, Marine Sgt. Daniel Vasselian, two days before Christmas.
Erin Vasselian learned of the death of her husband, Marine Sgt. Daniel Vasselian, two days before Christmas.John Tlumacki/Globe staff

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Erin Vasselian left her job at Starbucks an hour early on Dec. 23, her mind swirling with thoughts of Christmas preparations and a husband stationed with the Marines half a world away in one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan.

The day was gloomy, with cold rain falling in Abington. The 27-year-old glanced out the window for no special reason, she recalled, and there they were. Two Marines in dress-blue uniforms, their expressions grim, heading for the front door of her house.

“I knew,” she said.

Her high school sweetheart, Sergeant Daniel Vasselian, had been killed that day with a sniper’s shot to the chest while patrolling the dusty tinderbox that is Helmand Province.

Forty-seven men and women from Massachusetts, members of the military, have died in the Afghanistan conflict.

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