CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq -- Lance Cpl. Bunny Long’s last decision before he was killed in action was one that saved the lives of his fellow Marines.
Long, a 22-year-old from Modesto, Ca., parked his armored seven-ton truck behind the combat operations center at Entry Control Point 1. It was a seemingly small decision, but one that proved pivotal to saving Marines.
Shortly after parking his truck, he took his post when a bomb-laden vehicle crashed into the ECP, killing him. The truck he parked absorbed the brunt of the blast, sparing 20 Marines who escaped with minor injuries.
Long was honored by his Marines in a memorial service here March 18, on the shore of Lake Baharia. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.
“Bunny was so much more than the Marine I grew to admire and respect,” Capt. Brian D. Greene, the company commander for Headquarters and Service Company. “He was a son, a brother, a friend, a confidant to so many, and a man who answered the call when his country needed him the most. He will forever be embedded in my heart and mind as someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and his brothers-in-arms.”
Cpl. Troy R. Shannon Jr. was among the Marines who was spared from the blast because of Long’s decision.
“The only reason I am standing here today is because of Lance Cpl. Bunny Long,” Shannon said. “He will always be a hero and that will never be forgotten. Thank you, Lance Cpl. Bunny Long.”
“Lance Cpl. Long died at his post at ECP 1, the major entry into the city from Baghdad,” said Lt. Col. Scott D. Aiken, the battalion’s commander. “His consistent efforts on security have led Fallujah down the long road to normalcy. When the history books are written, let the actions of brave men such as Lance Cpl. Long rightfully dominate the pages. May the Good Lord comfort the soul of this fallen warrior, and comfort his family.
Long was remembered by his fellow Marines, as they took the podium to recall the friend and comrade he was to them.
“I first met Bunny in January, 2005 when he arrived to the fleet,” said Lance Cpl. Richard Figueroa. “Bunny and I became friends instantly. His Marines, corpsmen and friends always loved him. When he noticed that someone was feeling down he would go out of his way to put a smile on their face. I knew Bunny in and out of work and he was always happy.”
As Figueroa was speaking, the emotion in his voice carried over to the crowd, some of whom started to weep openly. Figueroa choked back a sob and continued.
“Bunny came from a loving family and it showed in the way he cared for others,” Figueroa continued. “He always expressed how proud he was of his sister and how she was succeeding. He always talked about how much he missed and loved his family. He was always ready to do anything for his family, especially his sister.”
At that statement Figueroa broke down and began to weep for his friend. With tears pouring down his cheeks, he finished his speech.
“I will always remember the good times we had together and I will cherish each one,” he continued. “He was a member of my family too. He played with my daughter like an uncle would play with his niece. He cared for me like a brother and I loved him as mine. I love you Bunny and I will always miss you. We will meet again”