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12-31-08, 08:39 AM #1
Camp Pendleton Marine dies in Iraq
MILITARY: Camp Pendleton Marine dies in Iraq
By MARK WALKER - Staff Writer
CAMP PENDLETON ---- A U.S. Marine lance corporal has died in a nonhostile incident in Iraq's Anbar province west of Baghdad, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.
The department identified the Marine as Lance Cpl. Robert L. Johnson, 21, of Central Pointe, Ore.
Johnson was assigned to Camp Pendleton's 5th Combat Logistics Battalion, 1st Combat Logistics Regiment, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
The circumstances of his Dec. 20 death are under investigation, the department said in a written statement.
Johnson joined the Marine Corps in September 2005 after graduating from Crater High School in Central Pointe. His job was described as a logistics vehicle system operator.
Published reports in Oregon newspapers said he married his wife, Elizabeth, shortly before leaving in August on his second assignment in Iraq. His mother was quoted as being unaware of how he died.
Johnson, whose first Iraq deployment was in 2007, grew up in California and Oregon. He is scheduled to be buried at 1 p.m. Friday at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary in Whittier.
His awards included a Navy Unit Commendation, a Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
At least 344 Camp Pendleton-based Marines and sailors have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. Fourteen Marines from the base lost their lives in Iraq this year, the lowest annual figure.
The death toll in Iraq from troops stationed at other area bases since the war started include 10 from Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and 114 from the Marine Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.
Of the 12 troop fatalities in Iraq from all branches of the services this month, seven stemmed from what the Pentagon said were nonhostile injuries, including three who died in motor vehicle accidents.
The 12 fatalities represent the lowest monthly number since the invasion, according to icasualties.org, which tracks all troop deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Through Dec. 29, 312 American service members had died in Iraq in 2008, also the lowest yearly total since the war began.
Contact staff writer Mark Walker at (760) 740-3529 or email@example.com.
12-31-08, 09:00 AM #2
Posted on Wed, Dec. 31, 2008
A young Marine falls
Loss reminds us of lives still being sacrificed in Iraq
Before he left for Iraq, Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas "T.J." Reilly Jr. got the word gnarly — a term he and two high school buddies used to describe themselves — tattooed on his arm.
He communicated with Kentucky friends back home in London a lot, by telephone and through My Space. On the morning of Dec. 21, he exchanged jokes with one friend's wife on MSN Messenger.
Later that day, he was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the vehicle he was riding in while supporting combat operations in Iraq's Anbar Province. He was 19.
The war in Iraq, calmer now, has been pushed off front pages as other calamitous events unfold. But the end of the short life of Corporal Reilly, a young man not two years out of high school, must remind us that Americans are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and that each death is a life shortened, a painful gap in the lives of the friends and families left behind.
Reilly loved the Marines, according to his friends, but he had plans for a longer life. He liked cooking and baking and contemplated a career in the culinary field.
Like many young men and women from economically depressed areas in this country, he saw the Marines as a way out, a way to develop leadership skills and build a better life.
We honor his service and offer our condolences to those he left behind.
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