Fallen Warriors earn praise of Marine peers


POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One hundred eleven Marines and sailors assigned to Kaneohe Bay infantry units have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

Yesterday the latest casualties of the war in Afghanistan — nine Marines and one Navy corpsman killed in combat during the fourth deployment of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment — were remembered in a ceremony at the Windward Oahu base.

The “;Island Warrior”; battalion returned Nov. 6 after spending seven months in Afghanistan. Its first Afghan deployment was in 2005, and it has been to Iraq twice: in 2007 and again in 2008.

Lt. Col. Patrick Cashman, who commands the 2nd Battalion, said yesterday's ceremony was “;not a memorial, but a celebration.”;

He told reporters after the hourlong ceremony: “;Each one of these men were incredibly important to us. They did incredibly important things. The sacrifices they made for us, its important we recognize them.

“;It's also important these Marines get the opportunity to see their families (of the fallen Marines), to talk to their families and to understand that these are whole men, not just what they saw as a Marine, but whole lives that were sacrificed for them.”;

In his eulogy, Cashman told the nearly 1,000 Marines and sailors standing in formation that they were “;living memorials to these 10 men.”;

;[Preview]  Ten Kaneohe Marines Remembered As Heroes

Ten men who sacrificed their lives fighting for Operation Enduring Freedom were remembered at Kaneohe Marine Corp Base.

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As Sgt. Maj. Jason Patrick called out each fallen Marine's name, a three-man honor detail placed his helmet and dog tags on an inverted M-16 rifle adorned with the deceased's boots and a larger-than-life color photo.

Company commanders had their own remarks.

Capt. Robert Tart, who commands Echo Company, described Lance Cpl. John J. Malone as “;a fearless warrior”; who “;always took care of his buddies.”;

Capt. Paul Webber, Fox Company commander, said he got to know Sgt. Jay M. Hoskins during the bloody 2004 Fallujah campaign in Iraq.

He said that Lance Cpl. James D. Argentine chose to leave a desk job and “;the relative safety”; of Headquarters Company “;to go back into the fray.”;

Webber said that both Lance Cpl. Travis T. “;BB”; Babine and Lance Cpl. Alfonso Ochoa Jr. embraced their duties.

He added that the sacrifices the Kaneohe Marines made “;aren't forgotten as long as each of us dedicates ourselves to be good Americans.”;

Retired Marine 1st Sgt. John Bernard, whose son, Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, was killed on Aug. 14, said battalion commander Cashman “;hit it right on the head”; in his eulogy.

“;For the guys in uniform, when orders come down, you follow them,”; said the elder Bernard, who attended the ceremony in his Marine dress uniform.

“;When it comes right down to it, they are serving the guy next to you. ... It has everything to do with the guy to the left and the right. They serve each other right to the end. That's what it is all about.”;

John Bernard said his son was “;very intense.”;

“;He had an incredible sense of humor but a very dry sense of humor. ... He was loyal to a fault and incredibly humble.”;

Bernard said his son wanted to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps all his life.

Velma Torres said her son, Cpl. Christian A. Guzman Rivera, who died on Aug. 6, “;always loved the military,”; adding, “;He loved challenges, and he made it clear he never wanted to work behind a desk in a office. He always said he wanted action in his life. He wanted to be outside and be a Marine.”;

Torres said the last time she talked with her son, he “;was very happy”; because he had just been promoted to corporal — just five days before he was killed.



Killed during the Afghanistan deployment of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, from May to November were:


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