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.

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 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."

Isaiah 41:13


Indigo said...

Its amazing how something like this about people I have never met can have such a profound effect on me. I really appreciate you sharing this with all of us.

Kuz said...

I'm just glad I'm able to share it. It's been humbling how many people find this site because they Googled "Marines 2/24," "Daniel Wyatt," or "Operation Phantom Fury." I have such great respect for the sacrifices that are made on our behalf, and I hope we can all bring about a day when no more of these sacrifices will need to be made.

Anonymous said...

Cpl. Nathaniel Hammond's family attends our church. Nathan himself attended occasionally when he was home. Yesterday we attended the funeral and graveside service before hosting a supper for the friends and family. I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything quite like that before. I don't even know how to describe all of the feelings brought about by seeing all of those Marines standing at attention throughout the service. And then, upon reaching the National Cemetery, seeing the crowd of people there, with their flags, people who did not know Nathan, did not know the family but simply wanted to show their support and honor. Army and Navy representatives, too, were there. As the motorcade drew near, the crowd stood silently at attention, many with their hands over their hearts. The sounds of the 21 gun salute, the mournful sound of "Taps", watching the painstaking process of the Marines folding the flag, and finally seeing the Major present the flag to Nathan's mom & dad and then hold them both in his arms...all of these sights and sounds are burned in my memory forever. I hope that I never again take for granted those individuals in uniform who give and have given so much. To all who serve, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I had the privliage to personaly know Lcpl Branden Ramey, He was an amazing man, dedicated amazing Marine whom loved serving his country and making a diffrence. He had a vision of a better world for all and he took the stand in obtaing that vision. He was aware of the risk and still did not look back.
His decision was rock solid. His heart commited to the cause so many other brave people before him stood for. He knew that with the Flag waving freedom to all, came a great debt, a debt many pay with thier precious life.
He stood firm behind his Vision, his Heart, His Brotherhood, Our Country, our People, Our freedom.
when he told me he was going to Iraq, and i could write if i wanted to.
He knew ofcourse i would write, he was my best buddy, woman are always mushy and he knew I would rammble on and on giving his mind a time out from the war.
(rammbleing as i am doing now, Smile)
obviously we were worried about his saftey. The last time i seen him, (before he went to Iraq from camp pen) We were at Stacy's birthday party, (his fiance)
when we hugged goodbye, and i looked up at him. i never imagined to never see him on this earth again. i said to him, " i wish i could go for you, so you can stay with all these people who love you so much"
Branden looked at me, and said " I want to go, I am trained the best, I will be back, so i will see you when i get home"
He was absouluty the best in my eyes. Branden believed in me, when no one else did. He helped me to be strong and follow my heart. when i felt discouraged he told me to get it together and stay focused. he changed and touched my life for the better. i have always wanted to be a united states marine but i have been challenged with weight promblems. becuase two other marines and Branden encouraging me, helping me, and caring. I have lost over 200 pounds. I have 20 more to go before weight requirments to enlist. even while Branden was there in Iraq he took the time to encourage me and tell me, to take care of myself.
Branden was my best buddy, and my Hero long ago, will never forget him and all he stood for, I will remember him everyday of my life and all he has done.
Thank you to all the brave people whom serve our country and shared the vision that Branden had, you all are Hero's God Bless,
Love a greatful American