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Loved ones mourn their fallen Marines - Respects paid to 39 who died in Iraq war
San Diego Union-Tribune ^ | October 11, 2003 | Jeanette Steele

Posted on 10/11/2003 2:54:11 PM PDT by concentric circles

Dennis Geurin bent and touched the dog tags that hung not from his son's neck but from an M-16 rifle plunged ceremonially into the ground.

Barely three months have passed since Lance Cpl. Cory Geurin, 18, died in Iraq when he fell off a building he was guarding.

But yesterday's 1st Marine Division memorial service for 39 fallen members was the father's first chance to talk to Marines who ate, slept and fought next to his son. He hungers for every tidbit about his Marine's final days.

"I need to touch base with Marines who knew him. I need to ask them questions. 'What did you eat? What did you talk about?' " said Geurin, who wore a T-shirt with his son's boot camp graduation photo emblazoned on the front.

The misty morning ceremony made proud tears fall again among family and friends of the 1st Division Marines who died in Iraq.

The 20,000-person division, which was the Marines' main ground force in the war, waited to hold the ceremony until all its members had returned home, officials said. The last large group came back last weekend.

Geurin, of Santee, said it was important for him to attend, but added that his wife isn't ready for ceremonies.

"Our heart's broken and we miss him very much," he said. "But I came today to pay respects not just to my son but to all the soldiers and the Marines here that gave their lives for their country."

Thirty-nine rifles were lined up across a base parade field. Thirty-nine desert-camouflaged combat helmets rested atop the weapons, and 39 pairs of dust-colored boots sat below.

The unmanned rifle is a traditional tribute at a Marine memorial service, but rarely are there so many lined up at once.

As a band played a slow, mournful hymn, a Marine official read each man's name, hometown, unit and date of death. For each, a Marine honor guardsman from his unit performed a slow, tight salute, then marched to stand sentinel behind the upended rifle.

Many eyes became wet as the hourlong ceremony went on. Three large sections of bleachers and chairs were filled by family and fellow Marines, and more stood around the sides.

Staff Sgt. Christian Morera, 30, wiped his cheeks as he walked from the field. Home since July, Morera didn't know any of the fallen Marines, but he said he felt humbled by the ceremony.

"To see their families here crying, it kind of gets to you," said Morera, of the 11th Marine Regiment. "The loss of these guys is a lot. It just made me feel proud that these (Marines) gave their lives up to protect and free a country."

Sgt. Maj. Wayne Bell said it was hard to keep his emotions in check while reading the names.

"This is probably the toughest thing I've ever had to do in my life," said Bell, a Marine for 27 years.

Division Commander Maj. Gen. James Mattis said these Marines are the real cost of freedom. In front of him, 11 platoons stood in formation, representing each regiment and specialty battalion that deployed for the war.

"It was the courage, unselfishness and skill of these young men we recognize today, to which we owe our victory," Mattis said. "And even our own lives. Any one of us might have died in their place, and certainly some of us are alive today thanks to them.

"We will never forget them."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; US: California; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: anamericansoldier; california; camppendleton; fallen; iraq; iraqifreedom; marines; memorialservice; mourners; tribute; usmc; waronterror; welcomehome

Dennis Geurin of Santee grieved at a memorial
service Friday for his son, Lance Cpl. Cory Geurin,
18, and 38 other members of the 1st Marine
Division who died in Iraq. Family and friends of
the fallen and strangers attended the service.

1 posted on 10/11/2003 2:54:12 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: concentric circles
From another story, same source:

About 200 friends and family members today mourned 39 Marines and sailors who lost their lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Camp Pendleton ceremony was led by the base commander, Maj. General James S. Mattis.

"We gather together to confront the real cost for our freedom," Mattis said. "These young men shouldered their weapons and moved without hesitation against the enemy."

Thirty-nine rifles – symbolizing the dead – stood in the beaten-down grass on the parade grounds, their butts topped with helmets, their pistol grips festooned with dog tags. An empty pair of boots, each the color of desert camouflage, sat by each rifle.

"It's very emotional knowing that we are not going to see him anymore," said Kathleen Ruiz, whose husband, Eduardo, served as honor guard for their friend, Cpl. Douglas Marenco, 28. He died May 18.

After the playing of "Taps," each honor guard lifted his arm slowly in salute, then walked behind the rifles and stood at ease.

Marenco's 9-year-old son, Julian, came from Chino with his mother, Alicia, and 5-year-old sister, Isabella.

The boy wore a duplicate set of dog tags on his chest.

"It makes me comfortable," the boy said. "It's OK my dad had to die."

His father, recalled Julian, told him definitely not to join the Army.

Julie Cawley Hanson came from Utah to honor her brother, Staff Sgt. James W. Cawley. The 41-year-old was the only reservist to lose his life during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

The woman said her brother – who could have avoided deployment because he was due for surgery – knew he wouldn't return.

"This was a young man who knew he would die," Julie Hanson said. She explained that her brother left detailed instructions about his burial and long letters for his children, Cecil, 9, and Keiko, 6.

"He took all of his civilian clothes out of his closet so that his wife wouldn't have to do it," his sister said as she wept. "He gave his clothes to charity."

The fallen military man was a detective for the Salt Lake City police SWAT unit when he was called for duty, his sister said.

His Japanese wife, Miyuki, plans to stay in Utah near her slain husband's family, the sister said.

"His wife decided she wanted to stay in a country that so honors its heroes," Julie Cawley Hanson said.
2 posted on 10/11/2003 2:55:25 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: All
I would like to take a moment to ask for donations.

It should be clear to all conservatives by now that the left intends to demonize us. They don't just disagree with us, they hate us. And worse, they want to get other people to hate us.

Places like Free Republic drive the left batty.

Please donate. Thanks for your consideration.

3 posted on 10/11/2003 2:55:56 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: concentric circles
Thanks for posting. Condolences to the families and friends of these courageous young Marines. We must never forget their sacrifice.
4 posted on 10/11/2003 3:39:44 PM PDT by Ben Chad
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To: concentric circles; JulieRNR21; Vets_Husband_and_Wife; Cinnamon Girl; Alamo-Girl; Bigg Red; ...
Bump up for our fallen HEROES!

Click on the imageCMHonor to visit the tribute page


"The Era of Osama lasted about an hour, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty."

5 posted on 10/11/2003 5:08:39 PM PDT by Neil E. Wright (An oath is FOREVER)
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To: Neil E. Wright
Times to always remember.
6 posted on 10/11/2003 5:29:56 PM PDT by Eastbound
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To: Neil E. Wright
Thanks for the ping Neil.

Remember the Fallen Bump.
7 posted on 10/11/2003 6:04:35 PM PDT by SAMWolf (Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.)
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To: concentric circles
Eternal Father...........

Semper Fi MARINES!
8 posted on 10/11/2003 6:36:43 PM PDT by tet68 (multiculturalism is an ideological academic fantasy maintained in obvious bad faith. M. Thompson)
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To: All
President Bush has often said something to the effect that America's freedom is God's gift to the world. These United States Marines and possibly a number of United States Navy Sailors died so OTHERS THEY NEVER KNEW could live in freedom. Americans continue to pass God's gift of freedom to OTHERS with little or no thanks while sacrificing our brightest and bravest. But we do it because it has to be done!

God Bless them one and all, rest in peace and Semper Fi!
9 posted on 10/11/2003 6:38:17 PM PDT by Joe Marine 76 ("We few....We proud few....We Band of Brothers")
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To: Neil E. Wright
10 posted on 10/11/2003 7:12:17 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl (Please donate to Free Republic!)
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To: Neil E. Wright
11 posted on 10/11/2003 7:30:45 PM PDT by firewalk (thanks for the ping)
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