MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A 6th Marine Regiment leatherneck lost in a vehicle accident was memorialized in a somber ceremony today at the base chapel here.
Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin S. Whitley said despite the fact Pvt. Richard A. Mazzeo was not a combat fatality, the process of grieving for a friend and brother Marine is important.
“This ceremony is primarily for his fellow Marines to memorialize him,” Whitley, a religious specialist, said. “It's very similar to memorials for Marines killed in combat.”
As friends and family of Mazzeo, 20, field radio operator with the regiment, sat in the pews, they were met by a display commemorating the fallen Marine. A framed photo, candles and flag in Mazzeo's honor sat atop the altar draped with an emerald green tapestry. American and Marine Corps flags hung from mounts on the wall behind the pulpit. Another set of flags was marched to the front of the sanctuary as Marines and sailors stood at attention
Staff Sgt. Timothy L. Glore took to the pulpit to read a letter from Mazzeo’s family. In it, they praised his transformation and development as a man and a Marine.
“The uniform does not make the man; the man makes the uniform,” the letter read, in part. “We're proud Rick was one of the few, the proud, the Marines.”
Like many Marines new to the Fleet Marine Forces, Mazzeo had some troubles adjusting to a new way of doing things, said Capt. LeRon E. Lane, Mazzeo’s officer-in-charge.
“He spent his fair share of time in front of my desk, if you know what I mean,” Lane said in his remarks.
Lane concluded his remarks by reflecting on the completion of Mazzeo’s evolution into a well-rounded, competent Marine. During a meeting with the young Marine in his office one day, Lane told him that “he finally clicked. He had become a good Marine and a good man as well.”
“The last words out of my mouth to him were of how proud of him I was,” Lane said.
Through memorials such as these, Marines know that no matter the circumstances, their family, both blood relation and Marine Corps family, will remember them in death.