2 isle Marines killed in Iraq
The Kaneohe-based men were fatally wounded on Monday by a roadside bomb
Two Kaneohe Marines died Monday from wounds they received from a roadside bomb while on patrol in Iraq.
The Pentagon yesterday reported that Sgt. David R. Christoff Jr., 25, of Rossford, Ohio, and Lance Cpl. William "B.J." Leusink, 21, of Maurice, Iowa, were wounded Monday while on patrol in Al Anbar province and died a day later.
They were both members of Kaneohe's 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, whose nickname is "America's Battalion."
With their deaths, the battalion has lost eight Marines since it arrived in Iraq in March.
This is the second combat deployment for the battalion in two years. In November 2004, the Kaneohe Bay unit was sent to Afghanistan for seven months, where it lost two Marines.
Christoff was serving his second combat tour in Iraq, his grandmother, Ann Christoff, told the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio.
Leusink also was on his second combat tour, previously serving in Afghanistan, the Rev. Wayne Sneller of First Reformed Church in Maurice, Iowa, told the Sioux City Journal in Iowa.
"He was what I would call patriotic -- believed in his country, believed in what he was doing," Sneller told the newspaper.
Leusink was on foot patrol in Haqlaniyah, northwest of Baghdad, when he was hit, according to a press release from Memorial Funeral Home in Sioux Center. He was treated on the scene and evacuated to a nearby hospital, where he died.
"He always said, 'If something happened to me, this is what's supposed to happen. I'm doing what I've been called to do,'" Sneller said. "He was a confident man who loved the Marine Corps, believed in his mission and believed that he would come home."
Leusink is survived by his wife, Miranda, whom he married in 2004; parents William and Elaine Leusink of Maurice; a brother; and two sisters.
Christoff left the University of Toledo and enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his grandmother told the newspaper.
"He was very smart and got good grades and worked his way up to sergeant very quickly in the Marines," she said. "He was so sure that that was what he was supposed to be and that was what he was supposed to be doing.
"He thought as long as the Marines were over there fighting we could all sleep good at home."
He was single and was planning a career in law enforcement, his grandmother said.
Christoff is survived by his father, David Christoff Sr., who told the Toledo Blade in Ohio that the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his son's life.
The younger Christoff was enrolled in the University of Toledo as a business major when terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"He was going to pursue some sort of business degree at UT and (after the attacks) the only thing he could do is join the military," his father told the newspaper. "He does things all the way, and he joined the Marine Corps to get the guys who knocked those buildings down."