View Full Version : Deaths of Marines Hits All Military Families Hard

02-24-06, 07:33 AM
Deaths of Marines Hits All Military Families Hard
WLTX.com, SC

(Columbia) - For those with loved ones overseas, the fear is never-ending. Many military families say at no time is that fear greater than when stories of loss hit so close to home.

This week, two Midlands' Marines have died while serving overseas.

31-year-old Marine Staff Sergeant Jay Collado from Columbia died Monday after a roadside bomb hit his vehicle.

On Tuesday, Marine 2nd Lieutenant Almar Fitzgerald of Lexington died from injuries he received during a weekend bombing.

For military mom Estelle Ray, the deaths are a reminder just how violent the war on terror can be.

"Every little bombing or everytime I hear about a roadside bombing I say 'Oh my God. My daughter,'" Ray said.

Her daughter, Vonda, has served with the Army for 20 years and spent nearly a year of it in Afghanistan. Two weeks ago, though, Ray got the news she'd been waiting to hear.

"When she got back to Germany she called me that night and said 'Mama, I'm home.' I said, 'Thank you Jesus!' I said, 'Lord I'm so happy!' She said, 'Mama, you not as happy as I am.'"

As sweet as the moment was for Vonda, there was also a bitter bite to her reality. Her granddaughter's father would be one of the soldier's replacing Vonda's company. It was hard for Ray to imagine young Niya parting with her dad.

"He said, 'I wanna spend as much time with my child because I'm fixing to leave and I may never see her again. ...And when I heard about those two boys this week--it got next to me," she said.