I don't think it's escaped anyone's notice that tomorrow is Memorial Day.
It is a solemn day. One where we honor the ultimate sacrifices made on our behalf by brave men and women. It is right that we do this. We should do no less.
As I was searching the Internet this weekend for articles, I came across one titled "Silent Eulogies" from the Rocky Mountain News. The article talks about Fort Logan Cemetery in Colorado. One of the tombstones there is inscribed "Remember Me And Not My Fate"
That is what this post is about: remembering the lives of some who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The first fifteen Marines are all fallen Highlanders from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. The next is the son of an old friend of ours. After that is the son of someone I got to know through fishing events for folks at Walter Reed. She and her husband have made a point to attend every event. Major Crocker served with my husband in Iraq as did LCPL. Gadsden.
For each name, if possible, there is a link to something written about how they LIVED their lives.
LCpl Jesus A. Suarezdelsolar 27 Mar, 2003 Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq Cpl Nicholas J Dieruf 8 Apr, 2004 Al Bu Hardin, Iraq Cpl Rudy Salas 20 May, 2004 Route TIN, Iraq SSgt Jorge A. Molina-Bautista 23 May, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq LCpl Jeremy L. Bohlman 7 Jun, 2004 Ar Ramadi, Iraq Sgt Jason C. Cook 21 Aug, 2004 Al Jaramil, Iraq Pvt Nachez L. Washalanta 21 Aug, 2004 Al Jaramil, Iraq SSgt Theodore S. Holder II 11 Nov, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq LCpl Kyle W. Burns 11 Nov, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq LCpl Blake A. Magaoay 29 Nov, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq LCpl Jason E. Smith 31 Dec, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq LCpl Daniel S Bubb 17 Oct, 2005 Ar Rutbah, Iraq LCpl Chad R. Hildebrandt 17 Oct, 2005 Ar Rutbah, Iraq LCpl Jeremy P. Tamburello 8 Nov, 2005 Ar Rutbah, Iraq
LCPL Jonathon Gadsden Wounded 21 August, 2004 in al Anbar Province, Iraq and succumbed to those injuries 22 October 2004 He was attached to 1st LAR at the time of his injuries but was with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1 Marine Division..
Cpl. Brett Lee Lundstrom Jan. 7, 2006 Al Fallujah, Iraq 2nd Battalion/6th Marines
Capt. Brian Scott Letendre May 3, 2006 Al Anbar province, Iraq I and I staff, 1/25th
Major Ricardo Crocker May 27, 2005 Al Anbar province, Iraq 3rd CAG
In all honesty, the only of these Marines that I ever met was Cpl. Brett Lundstrom. When I found out that he had been killed, I pictured the sweet, shy, dark eyed boy I had known years ago. For the others, I "know" them because I have gotten to know the families they left behind.
For example, I know that Jason Cook liked "expensive coffee" and always put his uniform together the night before work because he never wanted to let his Marine Corps down. His beautiful wife, Yovana, told Lancelot and I these things with such a proud smile on her face.
I know that Daniel Bubb asked his aunt Jules to physically purchase a pair of boots and mail them to a friend who didn't get any mail so that he would get something at mail call in one of his last phone calls home. He was an incredibly caring young man.
I know that Nick Dieruf liked to take things apart to see if he could put them back together...and sometimes, he couldn't.
I know that PFC. Washalanta worked in a circus before joining the Marine Corps. The judge who put him in foster care, who recommended that he consider joining the military and who gave the eulogy at his funeral remarked that Wash had completely turned his life around and was so proud of being a Marine.
I know that SSgt. Molina-Bautista was such a good father that his oldest son, Jorge, is going to bootcamp soon.
Thanks to Crash Fistfight, I know this about Kyle Burns
"Kyle was my gunner - We lived inside a turret no bigger than the front two seats in a Hyundai...let's just say we got to know each other. I would describe him as a Carhartt wearing, Copenhagen swilling, country music loving cowboy who could cuss with the best of them, from Laramie Wyoming. Kyle was a veteran of OIF I and this was his second trip to the sandbox. I hand picked him to be my gunner because as a platoon commander you need the best with you because your time is so precious that you have to have someone that can control a 14 ton vehicle while you are busy controlling the fight and your platoon over a radio."
And also thanks to Crash Fistfight, I know that Sam Holder was "a mountain of a man from Littleton Colorado. When you think of a Marine - you are thinking of Sam Holder. He was my right hand - my hammer."
I know that Major Ricardo Crocker was held in such high regard by the Marine Corps and the Santa Monica Police Department that his funeral was standing room only and the ceremonies of both the USMC and the Santa Monica PD were both complete and in synchronicity with each other. I was there. I couldn't believe the love and the care by both organizations to honor his memory and put him to rest.
I am the lesser for not having known these fine Marines and the world is a poorer place without them. I still thank God that they lived.
They are gone but not forgotten. They live on in our memories.