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11-11-06, 08:10 AM
Marines, Navy corpsmen honored

Family members of two fallen servicemen take part in the ceremony.


After the wreaths had been placed and the trumpeter finished playing taps, two Jacksonville women embraced each other Friday at a memorial ceremony for Marines and Navy corpsmen.

Carolyn Woods still grieves for her 22-year-old son, Julian, killed in Iraq in 2004. Ruth Southerland's 20-year-old grandson, Nathan Clemons, died in Iraq in 2005.

At Evergreen Cemetery in north Jacksonville, Woods and Southerland came together for the Jacksonville Semper Fidelis Society's annual rededication of a monument at the cemetery's front gate. The society gathers every year on Nov. 10, the Marine Corps birthday, to commemorate the fallen and console family members.

"They just make me feel part of them," said Woods, who also attended last year's ceremony. "My son is gone but the Marines never let me forget. He's gone but not forgotten."

About 80 people attended the ceremony. They bowed in silence to remember Woods, Clemons and Marine Cpl. Joshua Watkins, a 25-year-old who died Oct. 21 while on foot patrol in Fallujah. Clemons was a private first class in the Marines. Woods served as a Navy corpsman.

The monument at Evergreen Cemetery recognizes the close relationship between Marines and Navy corpsmen, who provide battlefield medical aid to Marines.

Marine Col. James Hooks, commanding officer of the Blount Island Command, joined Chief Hospital Corpsman Scott Wilson in giving speeches that emphasized the tight-knit relationships forged in the military units. That theme ran throughout the ceremony, ending with retired Marine Lt. Col. Bob Adelhelm's vow the Semper Fidelis Society will be back again next year.

"As long as there's a Marine in Jacksonville, there will be a Marine at this memorial on Nov. 10," he said.

david.bauerlein@jacksonville.com (904) 359-4581