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thedrifter
05-03-07, 09:40 PM
Fallen Marine’s dad gives Bush pen for veto
By Philip Ewing - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday May 3, 2007 18:50:00 EDT

When President Bush used a simple ballpoint pen to veto congressional Democrats’ supplemental war budget on May 1, it was the start of a second career for the pen. Its first had been writing letters to a Marine who was killed in Iraq.

That Marine’s father, Robert Derga, 53, brought the pen with him on a trip to Washington, D.C., in April when he and other Gold Star families met with Bush at the White House. During the 45-minute session with the president, Derga said, he gave Bush the pen and said that if Democrats passed a war budget that included a timetable for bringing troops home, he wanted Bush to use his pen to sign the veto.

“It kind of took him off guard, but I said it would mean a lot to me, and he assured me he would,” Derga told Marine Corps Times. Several weeks later, Derga got a call from one of Bush’s assistants, who told him that the president had used the pen moments before to veto the supplemental budget.

“I was just totally in shock,” Derga said. “Tears came to my eyes when I hung up the phone. I just couldn’t believe this really happened. I just really felt honored. I wanted to do something to help the president know that we were behind him. Even though it was his signature, I wanted to provide the ink that would help him make that happen.”

That ink enabled Bush to pass the political ball back to congressional Democrats, who now must send the president another budget proposal to fund the Iraq war.

Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, 24, was a reservist with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, of Columbus, Ohio. He had been in Iraq for two months on May 8, 2005 — Mother’s Day — when he was killed in house-to-house fighting in Ubaydi.

The Marine’s death reinforced his parents’ support for the president; they helped start an Ohio chapter of Families United, a group for the families of fallen service members.

Ellie