A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Farewell to a brave Marine

This past Thursday- James Joyce's birthday, for those in the know- I managed to get outside the wire, but for a solemn occasion: to fly out and attend the memorial for a Marine who was killed by an IED last week. He was by all accounts a dedicated, sincere young Marine who knew more about engines than anyone else in his mechanic shop...and those guys bust their butts to keep vehicles running in every sort of imaginable terrain and weather. Now he is the first fatal casualty in a battalion that saw more than its share of tragedy last year in Iraq, but one who continues to inspire his brothers to accomplish their mission. Now that's not a line from some public affairs officer, that's what they'll tell you, these warriors who stick their necks out each day when every convoy or patrol could bring a deadly encounter.
For those unfamiliar with the ritual, the fallen Marine's downturned rifle, helmet and boots are set up, he is called to report to duty one last time, presented with the purple heart by his commanding officer, his brothers say a few words, and finally taps is played. This was my first such memorial, and I don't look forward to attending any others. We know the risks we face (and by "we" I mean the ones who are in constant danger, not those of us on protective bases), but every loss like this makes me ponder the cost that will be faced by incredibly brave young men and women in this struggle against an ideology.
It did feel like a homecoming though, being surrounded by fellow Marines...even though I was meeting them all for the first time. Not to knock the Army soldiers of my command here, as many of them I would serve with anywhere, but it's a little like being a foreign service officer when you're in a structure of another service branch. The little things are amusing, the bigger organizational or procedural differences sometimes very frustrating, but you make it work. Still, it's just a damn good feeling to hang with Marines again, if only for a few hours.


Anonymous Sully said...

Non-related to the post, but thought you'd like to know. Time Out was closed 2 weeks ago (has since re-opened) for having the most health code violations of any restaurant in NYC. I say from now on, pre-Allmans is somewhere else if we're eating.

February 6, 2006 at 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Saoirse said...

Unfamiliar with the ritual so thanks for writing about it. I have seen the gun with the helmet and the boots, but never had it explained.

I am deeply sorry.
In the group I volunteer for Soldiers Angels, we call these brave men and woman who have lost there lives, Living Legends.

Every branch of the service that I write too, says the same thing. These are the heros. Many in dangerous situations have that attitude like you wrote about, "just doing there jobs."

Marines? One Dirt sailor who writes to us wrote, "Marines are the Best in a fire fight!!."

God Bless~~

February 8, 2006 at 10:35 AM  
Anonymous raf said...

"He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives--and through it he lives--in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men."

-President Franklin Roosevelt

Godspeed Marine

February 21, 2006 at 6:11 PM  
Anonymous PHC(AW/SW) RET said...

Because he made this sacrifice yesterday..I can write thank you today!
Marine your watch stands relieved, Stand down for the duration. RIP!

February 7, 2012 at 10:54 AM  

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