From: "Smith LtCol Mark A"
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2004 12:45 PM
Subject: Weekly Update and _Expression of Battalion Sympathy
It is my most unfortunate duty to report to you the deaths of:
Corporal Nathaniel T. Hammond, USMC
Corporal Robert P. Warns II, USMC
LCpl Branden P. Ramey, USMC
LCpl Shane K. O'Donnell, USMC
-->>click "continue reading" below<<--
These magnificent Marines, one and all, passed from this earthly existence into the hands of the Lord on Monday, 08 November 2004. Without a doubt, the darkest day in the history of this Battalion since World War II.
Cpl Hammond was struck by a command detonated improvised explosive device, while establishing security for the remainder of his Mobile Strike Team during patrolling operations in the vicinity of Yusufiyah, Iraq.
Cpl Warns, LCpl Ramey and LCpl O'Donnell were struck by a buried improvised explosive device while conducting a motorized patrol during patrolling operations in the vicinity of Lutafiyah, Iraq.
ALL Marines were killed instantly, suffered no pain and were recovered by their fellow Marines.
I cannot even begin to express the depth of sorrow and pain I feel for these losses. All of these Marines were exceptional Marines and outstanding human beings, for without whom the world will be a darker place. The most painful and difficult event in the loss of our Marines is knowing it has occurred, and then imagining the reaction of the families who love them dearly upon notification. I take some solace in knowing that as Marines we take care of our own, and the notification will be as professionally done as is humanly possible under the circumstances, but it is truly of little comfort knowing the gut-wrenching pain and soul shattering feeling of hearing the
words, "I regret to inform you...killed in action."
But, it is the "killed in action" where the dim light of lost life can be overcome by the bright shining light of sacrifice and love. These Marines, the living and the perished, live an existence that almost defies description, and I am far to incapable of truly putting it into words. But if you picture the most physically demanding day you ever had in your life, multiply it by (2), and then imagine doing it every single day for TWENTY to TWENTY TWO HOURS a day, you would almost capture what these Marines do. Then, you have to add in the reality of violent death being around every corner, the reality of being ready to destroy and do extreme violence in less time than it takes to blink an eye, do it all while being ever mindful of not harming innocents or non-combatants, accounting for the 50lbs of armor and gear you are carrying, and trying to not let thoughts of home and loved ones distract you from the duty at hand...and you would have about a 50% visualization of what these UNBELIEVABLE AMERICANS we call Marines do every SINGLE day.
You then ask "why? You ask why because you are not here. I ask why because I am. And, by being here, I ask why because I cannot believe that there are such men! Men that will bear any burden, overcome any challenge, tackle any foe, face any fear, that others might live in freedom and peace.
There are no William Shakespeare's in this Battalion and no Albert Einsteins. Quite frankly, many of these Marines you would shutter to present in mixed company, myself included. But you see, at their core of existence, beneath the veneer we all put on for the rest of the world to see, these Marines are pure of heart and soul! They are the Angels that we all long to see in the flesh.
For all the bluster and machismo, all they want to do is make a difference in a world gone mad! They want to destroy EVIL that GOOD shall abound, and abound aplenty. They want children to be bounced on their father's knee, without the fear of masked men kidnapping and beheading "daddy" in the middle of the night. They want to be part of bringing about an existence where even if they vehemently disagree with another's belief in a God, or in no god, that it is that, a disagreement among men, not an entitlement to torture, maim or slaughter those with whom you disagree. Inside the core of these Marines is love! Love of everything that is decent and proper.
Love of their fellow man. Love of their home and country. Love of their family. Love of their Corps and fellow Marines. And, this love keeps them always moving forward.
It is this love that will lead us to shed a thousand tears as we memorialize our fallen Angels on Friday. It is this love that will lead us to continue our mission of hunting the terrorists and ERADICATING them from the face of the earth. It is this love that will forever have the families of our fallen angels in our thoughts and prayers. It is this love that will have the names of our fallen brethren forever etched in our minds.
I for one know that I will never again hear the National Anthem or the Marine's Hymn without tears in my eyes, a pain in my soul, and the names and faces of ALL 2/24 fallen HEROES on my mind.
IT HAS BEEN MY DISTINCT PLEASURE TO KNOW AND SERVE WITH: CPL NATHANIEL T. HAMMOND, CPL ROBERT P. WARNS II, LCPL BRANDEN P. RAMEY, AND LCPL SHANE K. O'DONNELL.
It will forever be my responsibility that I could not bring them home living. But in knowing them in life and in death, I have known Jesus. Because I saw in them the "carrying of the Cross" for love of a friend!
It is my deepest prayer that immediately after being welcomed to heaven by the Savior, they were reunited with passed family and friends, and then met by LCpl Daniel Wyatt, issued their orders, and took their post "guarding the streets of heaven."
And, I also pray that the families know our Marines and their precious loved one never dies alone, they die among their friends, their BROTHERS!
God Bless You, You Magnificent Warriors in your final journey home and may you rest among the Angels where you rightly belong!
In profound sadness,
Mark A. Smith
Commanding Officer, 2nd Bn, 24th Marines
PS: SSgt Simon, Co G and LCpl Kruchten Co G, were seriously injured in the detonation that took the lives of Cpl Warns, LCpl Ramey and LCpl O'Donnell. Please pray for them and their families, and please reach out to them in their time of challenge and need.
"I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I + H -- Update and Sympathy
Received this yesterday. Because of how some Marine units are being moved around, it's not clear whether Phil's weapons company is actually in Fallujah. Will update as soon as I hear anything new.