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CAMP RAMADI Ar Ramadi, Iraq (June 7, 2005) - Corporal Donald W. Ball, a team leader and rifleman with 3rd Squad, Weapons Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, shows off his war fighters bracelet during a memorial ceremony here for his late friend, Cpl. Jeff B. Starr. Starr was killed May 30, Memorial Day, by small arms fire while conducting operations against enemy forces in this city. Ball, a 22-year-old from Salt Lake City, who served alongside Starr during three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, gave a eulogy during the ceremony. Photo by: Cpl. Tom Sloan

Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

1/5 honors fallen comrade

8 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Marines and sailors with the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, held a memorial service here to honor Cpl. Jeff B. Starr who recently fell on the urban battlefield while fighting in the Global War on Terrorism. The team leader with 1st Squad, Weapons Platoon, Company B, was killed May 30, Memorial Day, by small arms fire while conducting operations against enemy forces in this city. Five days prior, the Snohomish, Wash., native celebrated his 22nd birthday, according to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ commander, Lt. Col. Eric M. Smith. “He and this battalion share the same birthday, 25 May,” the 39-year-old from Plano, Texas, said in his memorial tribute to the young, brave warrior. “The battalion was formed in 1917, and he was born in 1983.” Starr was a seasoned, combat veteran on his third and final deployment supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was scheduled to return to Camp Pendleton, in a month to finish out the last few weeks of his enlistment and transition back into civilian life. Navy Lt. Aaron T. Miller, the infantry battalion’s chaplain, delivered the invocation, which focused on the value of life and the cost Starr paid. “Corporal Starr has given the ultimate sacrifice,” said the 32-year-old from Redlands, Calif., in his message to the servicemen attending the memorial. “He’s a hero, and we must always remember to honor him. His death will never be in vain if we carry on a memory of him and tell others of his heroic act.” Starr is remembered as being a confident intellectual who excelled in everything he did, according to his close friend, Cpl. Donald W. Ball, a team leader and rifleman with 3rd Squad, Weapons Platoon. Starr led with a firm but understanding attitude, had a competitive drive and gave selflessly to his fellow Company B comrades, added the 22-year-old from Salt Lake City. Ball gave a eulogy and shared memories of his late friend with those present. “He was the smartest person I’ve ever known,” explained the 2001 Cottonwood High School graduate. “He was so quick witted. If I or another Marine had a problem with something, we could always go to Cpl. Starr because he’d be able to solve it. He always had a quicker easier solution. The guy was a true winner.” Ball explained that Starr “put the needs of his Marines before his own.” One way he did this was through the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program as a brown belt instructor. According to Ball, Starr was so concerned about bettering his fellow Marines’ skills that he built a dojo at one of Company B’s observation posts. When he wasn’t on guard, he used his down time to teach MCMAP, said Ball. “He qualified everyone in the platoon to gray belt and some of us to green,” he said. During the ceremony, Smith challenged everyone to pay tribute to Starr in the future. “I charge you all to honor him everyday,” he said. “He’s now part of the battalion’s colors. He died fighting for (1st Battalion, 5th Marines). Keep Cpl. Starr’s and the battalion’s honor clean.” After the playing of “Taps”, the ceremony ended with everyone coming before Starr’s memorial – a warrior’s monument comprised of his Kevlar helmet, M-16, dog tags and boots – and paying their respects. During this time, Ball reflected on the loss of his friend. “He was my best friend,” he said. The two infantrymen became acquainted in 2002 when they were new to the Corps. “We had both just checked in to (1st Battalion, 5th Marines),” recalled Ball. “He got there a few days before me. We started hanging out together and became good friends.” Risking life and limb as the two fought alongside each other strengthened their friendship, explained Ball. “I served with him three separate times here in Iraq,” he said. “I was with him his whole time in the Marines.” Ball wears a bracelet on his right wrist to honor Starr. “All the Marines that have been here three times have a war fighter bracelet like this one,” Ball said as he held his fist up in front of his face to show off the thin, braded cloth band. “It’s that one piece of Starr that I’ve always got with me. It signifies our brotherhood, and I’m always going to wear it.”