CAMP RAMADI, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Marines and Sailors with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, mourned the loss of one their comrade, Lance Cpl. Adam J. Strain, during a memorial ceremony here Aug. 11.
Strain, of Smartsville, Calif., died Aug. 3 while fighting terrorism on Ramadi’s urban battlefield with his fellow Marines from Company B. The brave warrior was 21-years-old when he paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Navy Lt. Aaron T. Miller, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ chaplain, started the service by delivering the invocation.
“Every death is a painful sorrow for us,” Miller said as he addressed the audience of grieving fighting men. “Adam is our hero because his sacrifice was the ultimate. It’s up to us to carry on his legacy so that he may remain a hero.”
Lance Cpl. Steven R. Seeley, a close friend of Strain, followed Miller by delivering a tribute.
“We were best friends,” said 21-year-old Seeley from Beaverton, Ore., and machine gunner with 4th Platoon, Company B. “He was one of the best men I’ve known.”
Seeley explained that he Strain became friends a year and half ago when they were attending The School of Infantry-West at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“We were rack mates and immediately became close,” said the 2002 Westview High School graduate.
Seeley and Strain became machine gunners at SOI and received orders to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, where they were placed in 4th Platoon, Company B. Their friendship continued to strengthen over time.
“We did everything together,” said Seeley.
Seeley said they would often go to the movies and out to eat together. In addition to being a fun-loving guy who made every outing enjoyable, Seeley said his friend had a kind heart and was loyal to those he cared about.
“He was always someone I could talk to,” he said. “He always had his Marines’ backs, which is how he died; watching our backs.”
Strain was conducting an early-morning foot-patrol through a section of the Al Anbar capital with his platoon Aug. 3 when the Marines came under enemy fire, said Seeley.
“Strain was in the rear of the formation providing security while we rushed for cover,” he said.
Strain was shot by a sniper as he provided covering fire for his comrades with his squad automatic weapon, a light machine gun.
“It was the worst day of my life,” he said, eyes tearing up. “I lost my best friend.”
Seeley said Strain took pride in being a machine gunner and that he was “one of the best, always studying his machine gun knowledge and practicing to become better. He was in the back of the formation whenever we’d go out, and we could do our jobs with the comfort of knowing that Strain had our backs.”
Seeley’s eulogy also revealed his late friend loved his family more than anything. His parents, Rob and Karen Strain, and fiancée, Barbara Ann Wyclef “were the core of his life,” he said. “He often talked highly about them.”
Seeley joked about how, prior to deploying, he often loaned his cellular phone to Strain so he could call Barbara.
“He didn’t have a cell phone, and he always wanted to borrow mine to call his fiancée,” he said.
Seeley had the opportunity to witness first hand Strain’s immense love for those close to him when he visited his Smartsville country home near Grass Valley to the north of Sacramento just before they deployed to Iraq.
“When I went home with him,” Seeley recalled, “I saw just how important his mom and dad and fiancée were to him. He loved them so much.”
Seeley said Strain’s mother loved to stand outside and watch her son play with his two dogs, Nugget and Whiskey, in their yard.
Seeley finished his tribute and sat down. Strains’ first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Scott A. Van De Ven, then said the final role call, then scores of fellow brothers-in-arms went before Strain’s memorial – a warrior’s monument comprised of his Kevlar helmet, M-16, dog tags and boots – and paid their respects.
Seeley reflected on the loss of his friend and talked about how he planned to further honor him.
“I’m going to visit his fiancée and parents and take ribbons back so I can put his uniform together,” he said. “I’m going to visit his gravesite in Vermont and see where he rests for eternity.”