View Full Version : Titans honor first TN Marine killed in Iraq

08-20-03, 03:50 PM
Titans honor first TN Marine killed in Iraq
Submitted by: 6th Marine Corps District
Story Identification Number: 200381994241
Story by Sgt. Jason Fischer

6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, Parris Island, S.C.(August 14, 2003) -- Marines of Recruiting Station Nashville recently joined the Tennessee Titans to honor the memory of a fallen Marine. Corporal Patrick Nixon, of Gallatin, lost his life March 23 during an ambush in Nasiriah, Iraq. He was the first Tennessee resident killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Titans decided to show their support for Cpl. Nixon by inviting his family to the Nashville Coliseum to take part in a ceremony at the Titans vs. Cleveland Browns pre-season football game.

"We wanted to honor Cpl. Nixon's service and his sacrifice to our country along with all the military personnel who served in Iraqi Freedom from throughout the country," said Ralph Ockenfels, director of marketing for the Tennessee Titans.

Just prior to the game's beginning, Cpl. Nixon's family took the field, along with RS Nashville's color guard. Titans announcer Mike Donegan recognized the family over the loudspeaker, then told of Cpl. Nixon's heroism and bravery while in harm's way. He told of a young Marine who loved his country and his Corps, enough to give his life so others could enjoy freedom. With those words, up-and-coming contemporary Christian artist Jonathan Pierce performed a moving rendition of the National Anthem, while the recruiters conducted Colors. That's when the crowd roared to a phenomenal level, and thousands wiped tears from their eyes.

"That was one of the longest and loudest ovations we've ever had at this stadium - to see 70,000 fans who were that moved and recognized how Cpl. Nixon gave the ultimate sacrifice is quite moving, Ockenfels said. "The players, coaches and staff were moved as well during the tribute."

"That was really an honor, it gave me a good feeling knowing that everyone showed their support for Cpl. Nixon the way that they did," added Permanent Contact Station Lebanon recruiter SSgt. Joseph Caspole. "It made me feel great knowing what that must have done for his family."

The family of Cpl. Nixon was moved as well, and overwhelmed by the heart-felt show of support.

"I don't know if words can describe how we felt," said Cpl. Nixon's father, David Nixon. "They (the crowd) were sorry for the loss, but proud of what Pat was there for. You could feel the crowd embracing Pat and his family - it was remarkable."

According to Ockenfels, it was only natural to have the Marines of RS Nashville at the game to assist in honoring one of their own.
"We wanted a Marine Corps color guard on hand for that game as part of the tribute for Cpl. Nixon," he said. "Having them on hand for a fellow Marine and fallen comrade helps in showcasing the Marines and the service they endured during Operation Iraqi Freedom."

The elder Nixon mirrored that feeling, adding the Marine presence was a perfect fit for the tribute.

"The Marines from the beginning have been wonderful," he said. "The recruiters did a wonderful job, as usual, with the color guard, and were so impressive. No matter what request we've had, large or small, everyone's been really great, from PFCs to generals."

And for Caspole, who was working his first Titans game, the experience as a whole was something he said he'll never forget.
"I liked the atmosphere and high energy crowd," he recalled. "The response was great, and something about being completely engulfed by the cheers was awesome."

Corporal Nixon's father said the tribute was a fitting way to honor his son's contributions, as well as a therapeutic way to deal with the loss of his son.

"Something like this extends the healing process and allows people to show their support for Pat and the family," he said. "People support what the Marines have done as well as the sacrifices that have been made on their behalf."

After the ceremony, the Titans went on to win the game 10-6. An appropriate gesture, given Cpl. Nixon was said to be a hard-core Titans fan.


The family of Cpl. Patrick Nixon, a Tennessee Marine who was killed in action in Iraq March 23, receives applause from the nearly 70,000 fans at the Titans vs. Cleveland Browns football game. The Titans paid tribute to Nixon, as well as all servicemembers who have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Photo by: Sgt. Jason Fischer


Recruiting Station Nashville's Color Guard performs Colors during the National Anthem at the Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns football game at the Nashville Coliseum.

Photo by: Sgt. Jason Fischer



08-20-03, 04:06 PM

After local services in Gallatin, Cpl Nixon was intered at Arlington National Cemetary.