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thedrifter
01-22-05, 04:07 PM
Fallen warrior’s memory kept alive by comrades
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005121132650
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Jan 21, 2005) -- The death of Lance Cpl. Nicholas B. Morrison August 13 last year was a hard blow for Combined Anti-Armor Team Blue. The team deployed to Iraq with 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment and was used to death, but not for one of its own. Morrison’s comrades became used to operating without the 23-year-old and his constant smile after he was killed, but the hardest part of his loss wasn’t felt in Iraq. It was when they returned stateside in October they felt the loss of not just a Marine, but also their friend.

“Me and Morrison were best friends back here at Lejeune. We’d always hang out in each other’s rooms watching TV when everyone else was gone,” said Lance Cpl. Stan J. Leger, a 20 year-old machine gunner. The Lake Charles, La. native added, “I wish we could all be like he was, always smiling … the last thing I said to him before he went out that day was to be safe and get back to us.” His teammates were all there when an improvised explosive device took his life in the town of Mahmudiyah, but it isn’t what they choose to recall about Morrison.

“He never let the little stuff affect him. I try to follow his example and not let the little things bother me,” Leger said. “That’s how I keep his memory alive.”

His other comrades share similar stories about their stocky friend from Carlisle, Pa.

“One time the only vehicle we had to drive was a mini-van Morrison had borrowed, so we went cruising in Wilmington,” said Lance Cpl. William J. Runyan, also a machine gunner. The 19 year-old from New Castle, Pa. added, “It could have been embarrassing, but no matter what we were doing it was fun if Nick was there.”

Runyan added the morale Morrison brought to the unit was what he remembers most about him. His unwavering good nature is woven throughout every story his teammates have of him.

“Before we left for Iraq our clothes were packed up and we went to the mall to get something to wear. Nick bought a pink shirt and a straw hat to wear to the clubs,” Runyan said. “Everybody loved it. You couldn’t not have a good time when you were with him.”

Morrison’s fellow Marines agree that it hurts not having him around to enjoy the simple pleasures they share.

“I think about what we’d be doing if he was here. We were always together and it’s different with him gone,” Leger said. He added, “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about him and remember he’d want me to have fun no matter what I was doing.”

A Marine who shares Morrison’s job as a gunner for the tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile, had this to say about Morrison:

“He kept us all smiling out there. One time we had to fill 5,000 sandbags and he made it fun,” said Lance Cpl. Terrance J. Kilpatrick, a 21 year-old from Cleveland. He added, “One of our plans was to get together with his family when we got back and party with them, then the unthinkable happened.”

One Marine from Morrison’s hometown remembers his last conversation with him.

“The last time we talked he was telling me how much he missed his girl, and how much he missed home,” said Lance Cpl. Vito N. Strimaitis, a 20 year-old armorer from Carlisle, Pa. “Even though he was having problems with his relationship, he’d just smile and go with the flow. It made (Iraq) easier for all of us.”

After listening to the stories about Morrison, it’s clear that his fellow Marines keep his memory alive by remembering how he lived.

“There’s a type of person there to always lift your spirits. That’s the type of person Morrison was,” Runyan said. “Even when bad things happened he’d stay happy and keep living his life. That is what he would want to do.”

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/2005121133057/$file/Morrison-lowres.jpg

Lance Cpl. Nicholas B. Morrison was manning a missile system when he was killed Aug. 13 last year in Iraq. His comrades carry his memory with them today, keeping him alive in their hearts.
Photo by: Weapons Company, 2/2.


Ellie