MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Tears streamed down the face of Lance Cpl. Steven E. Burbol, standing proudly in his Alpha dress uniform as he described his memories of a young man he knew better than anyone and whom he thought of as a brother.
Cpl. William H. Crouse IV was honored in a ceremony June 29, 2011, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Family, friends and fellow Marines filled the audience as men and women took to the podium to share their most cherished memories of a Marine they said was a light in their lives.
Crouse was originally trained as an artilleryman and stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. During his time in the battery, Crouse made friends fast.
Burbol, an artilleryman with Battery C, said Crouse was one of the people he made friends with when he first came to the unit.
“Right when we arrived, he sort of took us under his wing. He was one of those people who was always smiling, always joking. I don’t think there was any Marine who didn’t like him.”
In November of 2010, shortly after being moved to Battery B, Crouse was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as an improvised explosive device detector dog handler. Tragically, Crouse died from wounds he received in combat Dec. 21, 2010, less than two months in to the deployment.
“It was tough hearing about it second-hand and not being there for him,” said Lance Cpl. Aaron T. Lopez, an artilleryman with Battery C and a close friend of Crouse. “I felt like if he would have been with us, we might have been able to do something. He was a really good friend to all of us, and it’s tough dealing with him not being here.”
Crouse’s death affected not only his loved ones, but even the loved ones of his fellow Marines. “My entire family knew him,” said Burbol. “He used to come home with me on weekends. They’re all here now to honor him.”
Those families got a chance to see the true person that was William Crouse, and for those who didn’t, his portrait was displayed during the memorial for all to see: a portrait of Crouse with a sly grin plastered across his face. The people who knew him said this was how they would remember him for the rest of their days.
Lt. Col. Jeffery C. Smitherman, the commanding officer of 1/10, said the most important thing is to do just that--remember.
“When we’re honoring and remembering fallen Marines, we’re honoring the fathers and husbands they never had a chance to be.”
After the ceremony was over, the display packed up and everyone had left, the theater returned to its normal, quiet state. Although events, ceremonies and movies will continue to take place there, the family and fellow Marines of William Crouse will continue to remember and carry on, keeping him in their hearts.