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Man Found Dead in Gowanus Canal Was Former Green Beret

By Trevor Kapp | May 1, 2014 9:23am
 Joe Gibson, a former Green Beret, was found dead in the Gowanus Canal April 21, police said.
Joe Gibson, a former Green Beret, was found dead in the Gowanus Canal April 21, police said.
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BOERUM HILL — The man found dead in the Gowanus Canal last week was a former Green Beret who will be buried in Calverton National Cemetery for military veterans, according to relatives and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joe Gibson, 49, who lived in the Wyckoff Gardens public housing complex in Boerum Hill just blocks from the Gowanus Canal, was found floating in the toxic waters on April 21 about 3 p.m., police said. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Police do not suspect any criminality, but said they are awaiting autopsy results from the Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death.

Gibson enlisted in the Army when he was 18 and served from 1985-1992, before being honorably discharged, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs and relatives.

“He fought overseas,” Gibson’s mother, Cecilia Gibson, 74, told DNAinfo New York. “He didn’t like to talk about it, but it changed him a lot. When you go to the Army, you’re lucky if you come out the same.”

Gibson got married in Washington state and eventually had a son, Joe. He loved to write poetry and was an avid reader, his mother said.

But he also began drinking more heavily when he came back to Brooklyn, his mother said.

“I didn’t like it,” Cecilia Gibson said. “[The Army] changes everybody’s personality. There’s too much violence.”

Despite his recent hardships, Cecilia Gibson said she didn’t believe her son would ever take his own life.

“For him, life was beautiful,” she said. “He wouldn’t throw himself into a river. I still don’t believe it.”

Gibson’s wake is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Interboro Funeral Home in Bushwick. He will be buried at Calverton National Cemetery on Friday.