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‘Darkhorse’ pauses to honor their fallen

22 Feb 2006 | Cpl. Mark Sixbey

Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 gathered here to remember two fallen men Monday, Feb. 20.

Cpl. Ross A. Smith, a fire team leader, and Pfc. Javier Chavez Jr., a rifleman, both with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company I., were killed by hostile action Feb. 9 in the Al Anbar Province.  So far, the company has lost three Marines.

“There are no words I can say that will relieve the hurt that the Smith’s, Chavez’s and we feel., said Lt. Col. Patrick G. Looney, the 43-year-old battalion’s commander from Oceanside, Calif.  “But what I can offer is that these warriors gave their lives doing what they chose to do.  My sincerest condolences go out to the Smith and Chavez families for their great loss.”

Portraits of Smith and Chavez rested alongside their boots, rifles, identification tags and Kevlar helmets, before the U.S. and Marine Corps flags.  The company stood in formation as their close friends and squad members read prayers and reflected on their friendships with the two men.

Lance Cpl. Joshua B. Tallis, an infantryman with 2nd Platoon knew Smith since they arrived together to their platoon.  

“You could always tell his presence, always loud, always happy,” said Tallis, 21, from Los Angeles.  “His platoon is going to miss their brother.”

He said it was Smith’s third deployment to Iraq.  He was 21 years old.

“He was going to get out and take over his father’s business,” Tallis said. 

Smith is survived by his mother, father, and girlfriend in Detroit.

Chavez, from Fresno, Calif., was born Dec. 31, 1986 and recently married Janie Chavez, 19.

“Those of us who knew Javier are better for having known him,” said Lance Cpl Pierce Ford, a 22-year-old infantryman Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Like Corporal Smith, he was an avid athlete, and an excellent student,” Looney added. “He was also a loving husband, a son, and a brother.”

Ford said Chavez always put his family first, going home to see them every chance he had.

“He was dedicated to his family,” said Ford, 20.  “He’d be the first to step up if somebody was being picked on.  My prayers go out to his family.  He’s in a better place now.”

Ford, who knew Chavez since their days at the School of Infantry, said that Chavez planned to use his experience in the Marine Corps as a stepping-stone into a career in law enforcement.

“We pretty much did everything together since we met,” Ford explained.  “He cared about his family, and he was like a brother to me.”

Pfc. Mack McSperitt, from 2nd Platoon knew Chavez since they were classmates in the 7th grade.

“He’s a childhood friend,” said McSperitt, a 19-year-old from Hanford, Calif.  “He joined the Marine Corps before me.  He knew what he wanted to do.  He joined the Corps to become a better person, to learn honor, courage and commitment.”

McSperitt said a few words for the Chavez family.

“He stood up for what he believed in,” he said.  “I’m very sorry for the loss of your son.  It’s hard, but he fought to the end.  You should be proud.”