MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Units with II Marine Expeditionary Force and 2nd Marine Division honored fallen Marines during memorial ceremonies at the base Protestant Chapel, here, May 21-24, to remember the Marines’ lives and service to their country.
Marines, sailors, family and friends with 8th Communications Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force; 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division; and 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, all honored their fallen comrades and loved ones whose lives were cut short.
Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II, of Manteca, Calif, was honored by the Marines of 8th Comm. Bn., May 21.
Palmer was killed while conducting combat operations in Khalidiyah, Iraq, May 5. The 36-year-old originally joined the Marine Corps on Dec. 14, 1992, and was trained as a logistics vehicle system operator. He returned to active duty and was promoted to corporal on Dec. 2, 2005.
A letter Palmer wrote on November 28, 2005, was read during the ceremony to friends and family and fellow Marines.
“The camaraderie, loyalty and comfort level is not found outside of the Marines,” he wrote. “I have attempted and (am) unable at this point to find a job equal to the Marines. One that enables to feel a sense of accomplishment I felt on (a) daily basis while serving my country. I look forward to serving with others that have the sense of duty that is unwavering no matter what challenges we face.”
Palmer’s memorial was a somber ceremony and unfortunately, wouldn’t be the last on this memorial week.
On May 23, the Marines and sailors of 8th Marine Regiment mourned the loss of Pvt. Theodore P. Urban III, a native of Ridge Morris, N.J., who died on April 23, 2007.
The 21 year old joined the Marines Corps on July 25, 2005, and reported to 2nd Marine Division in March 2006.
First Lt. Brian M. Stann, the commanding officer of Headquarters Company, 8th Marines, spoke to the audience about Urban.
“From the first day I stepped foot into 8th Marines, Headquarters Company, Private Urban was the first Marine to greet me each morning with a big smile and heart-filled enthusiasm,” he explained. “He enjoyed leading the Marines in their work outs and would jump at the opportunity for more responsibility, a trait not common to most men.
“That same positive attitude and genuine smile is a lasting impression Private Urban will leave with all the Marines here at Headquarters Company.”
A day later, the Marines of 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion honored the memories of Cpl. Joshua D. Pickard and Lance Cpl. Jesse D. Tillery, two Marines killed in action while conducting combat operations in Iraq.
Pickard, a Los Banos, Calif., native, enlisted in the Marine Corps on Jan. 23, 2004, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, on Oct. 26, 2004.
The assault amphibian vehicle crewman reported for duty at Company A, 2nd AABn., and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from Sept. 2005 to April 2006.
Upon returning to the U.S., Pickard volunteered to re-deploy with Company B, 2nd AABn., and in Oct. 2006 deployed to Iraq with 3rd Platoon as a vehicle crew chief.
On Dec. 19, 2006, while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq, Pickard was killed in action. He was 20 years old.
Tillery, a Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., native, enlisted in the Marine Corps on Oct. 22, 2004, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, on Aug. 9, 2005.
In February 2006, the assault amphibian vehicle crewman reported for duty at Company B, 2nd AABn., and deployed with the company to Iraq in late 2006.
On Dec. 2, 2006, the 19-year-old was killed in action while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.
The battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Michael L. Kuhn, gave his remarks at the two fallen warrior’s memorial.
“It’s a very special day to honor two phenomenal young men and two fine Marines,” he said. “There are no words to ease the pain. They served honorably on the battlefield in Iraq. They will never be forgotten. Their memory, courage and honor will always remain the forefront of 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion’s legacy and sacrifice.”
There was one thing for certain at each of the ceremonies here; each Marine’s dedication to duty, service to their country and bravery to join during a time of war will be remembered by every Marine and sailor in their units and, of course, by their friends and family as well.