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Friday, January 14, 2005



THE WAR IN IRAQ




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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Leis draped the portraits of 10 soldiers killed in Iraq during yesterday's memorial service at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe.




'Freedom isn't free'

10 soldiers are remembered for
paying the ultimate price

As more than 800 Kaneohe Marines solemnly honored 10 comrades killed in Iraq since Nov. 8, Col. Jeffrey Patterson reminded them that "freedom isn't free."

"In fact, it's so precious, it cost the lives of these 10 brave men," the commanding officer of the 3rd Marine Regiment told the fatigue-clad, close-shaven Marines in the Marine Corps Base Hawaii auditorium.

Nearby on a stage, 10 sets of boots, rifles and helmets sat behind a large photograph of each man, draped with a purple orchid lei.

Patterson also thanked wounded Marines and sailors who were in the audience. Some of them just recently returned from Iraq.

"The Bible says that no greater love has man than to lay down his life for his brother. The Marines and sailor whose pictures you see on this stage exemplify that," Patterson said.

A total of 19 soldiers, one sailor, 17 Marines and one civilian with Hawaii ties have been killed in Iraq since the war started in March 19, 2003. Of the 38 deaths in Iraq, 35 were due to hostile action.




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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Crystal Hines, whose husband, Cpl. Casey Hines, is currently in Iraq, wept on the shoulder of Cpl. Aaron Green.




Beyond the common denominator of giving their lives for their comrades, each of the fallen honored yesterday was unique, Patterson added. He and other Marines who served with the fallen offered tidbits about each:

» Lance Cpl. Jeffery Blanton, 23, of Fayetteville, Ga., was married to an Army soldier who was serving in Afghanistan at the time of his death in Iraq. "I guess you can say serving your country was a family affair," Patterson said, acknowledging Amber Blanton in the audience. "I want to thank you for being here."

» Lance Cpl. Aaron Pickering, 20, of Marion, Ill., nicknamed "Slick" for evading trouble, was a former all-state golfer who learned the game from his mother. Cpl. Scott Gatto praised Pickering as "a religious man" who encouraged the reading of Psalm 91 before each mission and spoke highly of his family.

» Cpl. Michael Cohen, 23, of Jacobus, Pa., told his mother he loved Hawaii and wanted to stay here and study to be a nurse or medical technician after his Marine service.

» Lance Cpl. David Branning, 21, of Cockesville, Md., was a talented visual arts student.

» Lance Cpl. Brian Medina, 20, of Woodbridge, Va., liked to share the latest hip-hop moves with fellow Marines but had an intense desire to serve his country. "To me he was the kind of person that legends were made of," Lance Cpl. Michael Erdman said.

» Lance Cpl. Michael Downey, 21, of Phoenix died at Bethesda Naval Hospital, 11 days after being shot by a sniper's bullet, with his parents by his side. "His mother told me that he loved being a Marine, that he loved our way of life," Patterson said, breaking down in tears.

» Lance Cpl. Franklin Sweger, 24, of San Antonio loved the science of chemistry and wanted to become a chemist.

» Petty Officer 3rd Class Julian Woods, 22, of Jacksonville, Fla., wanted to be a Marine but joined the Navy out of respect for his father being a career Navy man. When assigned as a medical corpsman for the Marines, Woods told his mother it was "the best of both worlds." He left behind a 3-year-old daughter named Israel.

» Lance Cpl. Blake Magaoay, 20, of Pearl City was a local boy who loved surfing and the outdoors and who returned to battle in Fallujah twice after being wounded. "His family said his heart was as big as all outdoors," Patterson said, "and I will tell you that heart is shared by every member of his family and that the apple didn't fall very far from the tree."

» Sgt. Rafael Peralta, 25, of San Diego was a Mexican immigrant who enlisted the day he received his green card, and earned U.S. citizenship while in the Marines. After Fallujah insurgents shot him in the face as he entered a room, Peralta smothered a grenade blast with his body, thereby saving others in his squad and earning recommendation for a Medal of Honor.




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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Somber U.S. Marines attended a memorial service yesterday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe for 10 soldiers with Hawaii ties killed in Iraq.




"History is full of battles that changed the course of the world," Patterson said, citing Gettysburg in the Civil War and the landing at Inchon in the Korean War as examples.

"I believe the Battle of Fallujah (in November) will go down in history as one that helped turn the tide in the war against terrorism," he said. "The bravery of these Marines inspired many Iraqis to stand up to the terrorists."

Lance Cpl. Cody Alt permanently lost vision in his left eye and was wounded in the leg during fighting in Fallujah. "It's a small price I paid for freedom," he said after yesterday's service. "These guys gave the ultimate price."

Said Master Sgt. Lloyd Williams after the service: "I think it's important that we remember these guys. We're all brothers. It's very important for Marines to see this type of ceremony. It hits home that we are there -- in Iraq -- and reality is hitting."




The U.S. soldiers
honored yesterday

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» Lance Cpl. Aaron C. Pickering: 20, of Marion, Ill., died Nov. 10 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

» Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Julian Woods: 22, of Jacksonville, Fla., killed Nov. 10 in Fallujah. Assigned as hospital corpsman to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

» Lance Cpl. David M. Branning: 21, of Cockesville, Md., killed Nov. 12 in Fallujah. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

» Lance Cpl. Brian A. Medina, 20, of Woodbridge, Va., killed Nov. 12 in Fallujah. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe. (No photo available.)

» Sgt. Rafael Peralta: 25, of San Diego, killed Nov. 15 in Fallujah. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

» Lance Cpl. Michael A. Downey: 21, of Phoenix died Nov. 19 at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., from wounds received in enemy action Nov. 11 in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment from the Combat Engineer Battalion in Okinawa, Japan. (No photo available.)

» Cpl. Michael R. Cohen: 23, of Jacobus, Pa., killed Nov. 22 in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

» Lance Cpl. Blake A. Magaoay: 20, of Pearl City, killed Nov. 29 in Fallujah. Assigned to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, Calif., but attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines during the battle for Fallujah.

» Lance Cpl. Jeffery S. Blanton: 23, of Fayetteville, Ga., died Dec. 12 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar province. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

» Lance Cpl. Franklin A. Sweger: 24, of San Antonio died Dec. 16 as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar province. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe.

1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment
www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/1dbn/1-3%20INDEX.htm
Marine Corps Base Hawaii
www.mcbh.usmc.mil


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