View Full Version : Marine’s body comes home

04-17-03, 02:31 PM
Marine’s body comes home

Pedro Morales
4/17/2003 12:25 am

The gentle rain that fell Wednesday night couldn’t mask tears shed by family and friends of Marine Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline Jr. as an honor guard removed his casket from a jetliner at Reno/Tahoe International Airport.

Cline’s widow, Tina, 22, their sons, Dakota, 2, and Dillon, 7 months, and about 30 family members and friends, gathered on the aircraft to remember a man who loved his children more than life itself and always had an easy smile, as a bagpipe sounded “Amazing Grace” in the night.

“It’s just one of those dreams that’s so unbelievable you’re still hoping they will wake you up and tell you they were wrong,” said Cline’s uncle, Ted Sauers, who flew with his wife and daughter from South Dakota. “You only needed to know him just a little bit to love him.”

Tina Cline placed a long-stemmed rose on the coffin, draped with an American flag, and rode in a hearse to Ross, Burke & Knobel Mortuary in Reno, where a public visitation will be held Friday.

Cline, 21, and three other Marines of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade died in an amphibious vehicle hit by enemy fire March 23 during an ambush in the southern Iraq town of Nasiriyah.

Cline was listed as missing until Friday, when two Marines and a Sparks pastor visited the Sun Valley home of Tina Cline to tell her his remains had been identified.

Near the windows of Concourse C, airport employees and travelers watched as the casket was carried to the hearse, some with their right hands on their hearts.

“He was very loving, and he loved his children a lot,” said his aunt, Suzie Hess of Washington state.

“I remember when my kid brother came back, and they took him off the same way,” said Orville Lee, Tina Cline’s grandfather from North Dakota, referring to his brother, a Vietnam War veteran.

Sauers said he’s thankful for the support the community has given Tina and the family. He said he wasn’t sure he would be in Reno this weekend until a retired New Jersey Marine, who heard about Cline, offered to pay for the flight for Sauers’ family.

“I’m hoping that the ripple effect that John created lasts in Reno,” he said. “If it lasts in Reno, it can spread. It can from one state to another.”

Seven Marines from Detachment 4 Force Reconnaissance Company based in Stead served as pallbearers. The same unit will provide seven Marines for a 21-gun salute during a private memorial service Saturday at the First Baptist Church on Pyramid Way in Sparks.

First Sgt. Jason Ruff of the Stead unit said he was notified that the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division or his chief of staff would attend the memorial service. Cline was part of the division’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He met Tina while attending Reed High School in Sparks and they married at the American Legion Hall in Sun Valley on Oct. 21, 2000 — the day after he graduated from Marine boot camp.

The family lived at Camp Lejeune until Cline received orders to ship out just after Christmas. Since then, Tina Cline and her sons have been living with her mother in Sun Valley, just north of Reno.

Earlier this week in the Los Angeles area, Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta added a picture of Cline to its walls memorializing former students killed while serving their country.

Born in Sierra Madre, Calif., Cline moved with his family to La Crescenta, where he attended Monte Vista Elementary, Rosemont Middle and Crescenta Valley High schools. While he was in high school, his family moved to Sparks.

In the days after he was reported missing, his wife received a letter that included a wooden Dodge Dakota pickup that Cline had carved out of Kuwaiti wood for his eldest son.

“As young as he was, he was such a family man. I think he got more joy out of playing with the toys than the kids did,” said Tamme Sweringen, Cline’s mother-in-law.



Rest in Peace

04-17-03, 04:52 PM
Honor and Glory to you Marine Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline Jr.

God Bless your family.