MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines from 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, gathered at the Protestant Chapel here Dec. 6 to pay their final respects to four fallen Marines.
The Marines honored in the ceremony were Cpl. Christopher R. Degiovine, an assault amphibian vehicle crewman with Company A; Cpl. Derek C. Dixon, a data technician with Co. A; Cpl. Willie P. Celestine; a radio operator with Co. A; and Cpl. Reynold J. Armand, a food service specialist with Headquarters & Service Company. They all gave their lives in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I know what I say today will do little to remove the horrible pain each of you have experienced,” said Captain Timothy F. Hough, company commander, Company A, “What I do pray is that our words will provide you a glimpse of the Marines and men that your loved ones were, as we knew them.”
One by one, Marines who served with the fallen warriors stood in front of the podium and shared what made that Marine special to them.
“Corporal Dixon was an outstanding Marine and anyone who had the privilege to meet him and work with him will agree,” said Cpl. Justin R. Flanary, a radio operator with Co. A. “He was highly capable of doing any job that was given to him. Although his job required him to work on the data systems, he also trained to be a radio operator and technician, enabling him to provide support to the company and platoons during their deployment to Iraq.”
Standing in front of his friend’s family and speaking about his memories was an emotional moment for one Marine. He choked up as he shared his stories about Celestine.
“As you have heard Willie P. Celestine was a tremendous leader, mentor, and friend,” said Cpl. Skyler O. Howeth, assault amphibian vehicle crewman, Co. A. “He left behind friends, loved ones, and a daughter, but most of all he left behind his name and his reputation. To me it will never be forgotten. To others who did not know him it may fade in time, but as the quote says ‘to the world you may just be someone, but to someone you may be the world.’ My thoughts and prayers go out to the people whose world was Willie P. Celestine.”
As a noncommissioned officer, all of these Marines lived their lives to an exceptional standard. However, one Marine was always hoping to reach a higher level.
“In the short amount of time that I knew him, I saw him rise from the rank of PFC to Lance Corporal to being meritoriously promoted to the rank of Corporal,” said 1st Lt. William R. Knapp, 3rd platoon commander, Co. A. “There were several occasions in the back of track 304, here in Camp Lejeune and at 29 Palms where we discussed the possibility of him applying for a commissioning program. It was my hope that he would decide to crossover to the dark side after the deployment. Although I was never able to tell him directly, he was exactly what it meant to be a noncommissioned officer of Marines.”
For Armand, the reflections of sadness were also mixed with the possibilities of what could have been. He deployed as an individual augment to Regimental Combat Team 6, and served in support of the dining facilities there. His company commander passed on memories from Armand’s comrades.
“While in Camp Fallujah, his friendship-building enthusiasm helped him make a number of friends right away,” said Capt. Jason R. Burgan, company commander, H&S Company. “He was known as a jokester; some say the equivalent of a Dave Chapelle. More than simply kidding around and joking around with Marines, he always put the needs of others in front of his own. He demonstrated selflessness in all that he did and he loved being a Marine.”
At the end of the ceremony, Marines slowly filed forward to the traditional rifle and boots display where they paid their final respects.