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May 31, 2010

Dear Jorge, I still remember.

This post was written 2 years ago at Spousebuzz and republished here last year. Today, I discovered that SSgt. Molina Bautista's son, Jorge, had left a comment last November. I think it's so important to let our Gold Star families know that their loved ones' sacrifice isn't forgotten. I remember, Jorge.

(I wrote this at Spousebuzz last Memorial Day. I wanted to post it again here because if family or friends of any of these Marines should google their names, they will know that we remembered.)

I don't think it's escaped anyone's notice that tomorrow is Memorial Day.
It is a solemn day. One where we honor the ultimate sacrifices made on our behalf by brave men and women. It is right that we do this. We should do no less.
As I was searching the Internet this weekend for articles, I came across one titled "Silent Eulogies" from the Rocky Mountain News. The article talks about Fort Logan Cemetery in Colorado. One of the tombstones there is inscribed "Remember Me And Not My Fate".

That is what this post is about: remembering the lives of some who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The first fifteen Marines are all fallen Highlanders from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. The next is the son of an old friend of ours. After that is the son of someone I got to know through fishing events for folks at Walter Reed. She and her husband have made a point to attend every event. Major Crocker served with my husband in Iraq as did LCPL. Gadsden.
For each name, if possible, there is a link to something written about how they LIVED their lives.
LCpl Jesus A. Suarezdelsolar 27 Mar, 2003 Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq
Cpl Nicholas J Dieruf 8 Apr, 2004 Al Bu Hardin, Iraq
Cpl Rudy Salas 20 May, 2004 Route TIN, Iraq
SSgt Jorge A. Molina-Bautista 23 May, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq
LCpl Jeremy L. Bohlman 7 Jun, 2004 Ar Ramadi, Iraq
Sgt Jason C. Cook 21 Aug, 2004 Al Jaramil, Iraq
Pvt Nachez L. Washalanta 21 Aug, 2004 Al Jaramil, Iraq
SSgt Theodore S. Holder II 11 Nov, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq
LCpl Kyle W. Burns 11 Nov, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq
LCpl Blake A. Magaoay 29 Nov, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq
LCpl Jason E. Smith 31 Dec, 2004 Al Fallujah, Iraq
LCpl Daniel S Bubb 17 Oct, 2005 Ar Rutbah, Iraq
LCpl Chad R. Hildebrandt 17 Oct, 2005 Ar Rutbah, Iraq
LCpl Jeremy P. Tamburello 8 Nov, 2005 Ar Rutbah, Iraq
LCPL Jonathon Gadsden Wounded 21 August, 2004 in al Anbar Province, Iraq and succumbed to those injuries 22 October 2004 He was attached to 1st LAR at the time of his injuries but was with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1 Marine Division..
Cpl. Brett Lee Lundstrom Jan. 7, 2006 Al Fallujah, Iraq 2nd Battalion/6th Marines
Capt. Brian Scott Letendre May 3, 2006 Al Anbar province, Iraq I and I staff, 1/25th
Major Ricardo Crocker May 27, 2005 Al Anbar province, Iraq 3rd CAG
In all honesty, the only one of these Marines that I ever met was Cpl. Brett Lundstrom. When I found out that he had been killed, I pictured the sweet, shy, dark eyed boy I had known years ago. For the others, I "know" them because I have gotten to know the families they left behind.
For example, I know that Jason Cook liked "expensive coffee" and always put his uniform together the night before work because he never wanted to let his Marine Corps down. His beautiful wife, Yovana, told Lancelot and I these things with such a proud smile on her face.
I know that Daniel Bubb asked his aunt Jules to physically purchase a pair of boots and mail them to a friend who didn't get any mail so that he would get something at mail call in one of his last phone calls home. He was an incredibly caring young man.
I know that Nick Dieruf liked to take things apart to see if he could put them back together...and sometimes, he couldn't.
I know that PFC. Washalanta worked in a circus before joining the Marine Corps. The judge who put him in foster care, who recommended that he consider joining the military and who gave the eulogy at his funeral remarked that Wash had completely turned his life around and was so proud of being a Marine.
I know that SSgt. Molina-Bautista was such a good father that his oldest son, Jorge, is going to bootcamp soon.
Thanks to Crash Fistfight, I know this about Kyle Burns
"Kyle was my gunner - We lived inside a turret no bigger than the front two seats in a Hyundai...let's just say we got to know each other. I would describe him as a Carhartt wearing, Copenhagen swilling, country music loving cowboy who could cuss with the best of them, from Laramie Wyoming. Kyle was a veteran of OIF I and this was his second trip to the sandbox. I hand picked him to be my gunner because as a platoon commander you need the best with you because your time is so precious that you have to have someone that can control a 14 ton vehicle while you are busy controlling the fight and your platoon over a radio."
And also thanks to Crash Fistfight, I know that Sam Holder was "a mountain of a man from Littleton Colorado. When you think of a Marine - you are thinking of Sam Holder. He was my right hand - my hammer."
I know that Major Ricardo Crocker was held in such high regard by the Marine Corps and the Santa Monica Police Department that his funeral was standing room only and the ceremonies of both the USMC and the Santa Monica PD were both complete and in synchronicity with each other. I was there. I couldn't believe the love and the care by both organizations to honor his memory and put him to rest.
I am the lesser for not having known these fine Marines and the world is a poorer place without them. I still thank God that they lived.
They are gone but not forgotten. They live on in our memories.
Semper Fidelis

Posted by at May 31, 2010 05:00 PM

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Thou still hast been the father of good news.

Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege,
I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,
Both to my God and to my gracious king:
And I do think, or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
As it hath used to do, that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.

Posted by: Dive-by Polonius at May 24, 2009 05:04 PM

How can we do anything other than show our gratitude, our respect and acknowledge the honor each has earned when they paid in full with their tomorrows for our freedoms, our prosperity and our tomorrows.

Si vis pacem, para bellum

May we never forget those who understood and stood firm in spite of the cost.

Posted by: bthun at May 24, 2009 05:40 PM


Posted by: spd rdr at May 24, 2009 10:39 PM

I have a small list of those I remember through connections I have made.

1LT Kile G. West, who was killed on Memorial Day, 2007. I attended his funeral, and posted on my blog about the experience. Because of that, I have become acquainted with his mother, whom I have only met in person once. I am able, when I find myself up near Fort Hood, to stop by to see Kile. CJ has asked me to write Kile's story for They Have Name, and when his mother is able (she's not in the area at the moment), we will get started on that project.

I substitute teach. A while back, I found myself subbing at Perez Elementary. Only later did I learn that it was in fact LCPL Nicholas S. Perez Elementary School. There is a display case in the lobby area with a Marine uniform with all of Nicholas' rank, insignias and awards. This spring, I meet his family - his mother and father, his sister and his little nephew (who is named for his uncle) - at an American Legion event.

I didn't realize that the person who invited me to start attending American Legion events lost a cousin in Iraq. I didn't realize that until - at the same American Legion event where I met LCPL Perez's family - I met the mother of Capt Rowdy J. Inman. We - Rowdy's mom, Nicholas' mom, and myself - talked about how the fallen can be memorialized. I know Kile has been honored by his high school alma mater: the new field house bears his name. Nicholas, of course, has an elementary school named for him, though the efforts of a local group called Tejanos in Action. We also talked about other area Gold Star Families we were familiar with. There is at least one post office in the area named for a fallen warrior: the Sgt. Norwood Memorial Post Office in Pflugerville, Texas.

There is much we can do to remember the fallen. I do like the idea of remembering them, and not the fate that was theirs. That is the purpose of They Have Names. Unfortunately, there are far too many stories to be told. I have already volunteered to write one, and have contacted the family. With the recent relaunch of the new and improved site, I've been giving it renewed thought, and I have volunteered to CJ to write these other two. Now, I just need to contact the families. I'll be seeing that cousin of Capt. Inman's tomorrow, at the American Legion, so I'll be able to make that offer then. I need to send Nicholas' mother an email, to let her know and see if she is interested. I would be willing to bet that CJ would welcome volunteers to help tell the story of all these others...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 24, 2009 10:42 PM

Four or 5 years ago, I read on Blackhawk 5, LtCol Strobl's account of his escort of Lance Cpl Chance Phelps' body back to his home in Wyoming. This afternoon, I saw the movie made of that story, on HBO. It was very well done, and appropriate to the day.

Posted by: ZZMike at May 25, 2009 02:59 AM

Amen to that, Mike. I saw it when it first aired on HBO.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 25, 2009 08:44 AM

Thank you guys for remembering them.

Miss Ladybug, I have in the past, talked to CJ about what you suggested. I should get back in touch with him about that.

Mike, I bought the movie. It sits in the original wrapper. Someday, I'll watch it but not today.

Posted by: Carrie at May 25, 2009 12:52 PM

Well, CJ has accepted my offer. Spoke to the cousin of Capt. Rowdy Inman today (well, technically yesterday, I just haven't been to bed yet), and he'll pass the offer along to his aunt. I met the briefly sister today, and there is also a wife left behind.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 26, 2009 01:57 AM

well i wanted appreciate the person who put this together and for honoring my fathers death(ssgt. molina bautista) i also wanted to clarefy that i didnt go to bootcamp but it was something i was thinkiing about doing ....im now a student at arizona state university and wil be doing NROTC next fall. i plan on fallowing my fathers footsteps and joining the corp but as an officer like he always wanted me to do...... i miss my father so much and i day doesnt go by that i dnt think about him and how much he loved the corps and his marines.

"semper fi "

Posted by: jorge moilina at November 4, 2009 02:34 AM

Carrie ~ mine's still in the wrapper as well.

For me, the list includes:
Thomas F. Allison - February 21, 2002. Philippines.
Chuck Sanders - Big Windy 25, April 6, 2005. Afghanistan
Theodore "Tuc" Church - May 28, 2007. Muqdadiyah, Iraq
Keith Heidtman - May 28, 2007. Muqdadiyah, Iraq
Jonathan Bryce Millward - May 27, 2009. Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii.
Stanley Blane Hepfner - May 28, 2007. Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii.
Matt Heffelfinger - November 8, 2009. Tikrit, Iraq
Earl Scott III - November 8, 2009. Tikrit, Iraq.

And Alan W. Gunn. February 12, 1968. SVN. For whom I wear his bracelet and will never forget.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at June 1, 2010 02:57 AM