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Fallen Marine memorialized by 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment

12 Jun 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Cpl. Philip J. Krabbe remembered his friend Cpl. Ryan J. Cummings as the type of Marine that everyone should try to be like.

He said Cummings was the example every Marine expected of a noncommissioned officer, a leader and the man he wanted fighting by his side.

“Cpl. Cummings was a lot of things … a true warrior … a very good friend who took pride in everything he did,” said Krabbe, a 26-year-old squad leader from Ridgecrest, Calif.

Krabbe and other Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment paused to memorialize Cummings, who was killed in action June 3.  A memorial service was held here June 12. 

Cummings was 22-years-old and from Streamwood, Ill.  He was assigned to Headquarters Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.

The battalion is currently operating in Gharmah, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“He was best known for his smile and his humorous nature,” said Lt. Col. David J. Furness, the 43-year-old battalion commander from Oceanside, Calif. “His sense of humor, up-beat personality and positive nature – no matter how dire and dear the circumstances – made him a valued friend and one of the most popular Marines in Bravo Company.”

Cummings extended his enlistment to deploy with his Marines.  He deployed with the 13th and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units to the region before.

“The gap created by the loss of one who so proudly held the line cannot be easily filled, but it must,” Furness said. “Another patriot must step forward to shoulder the burden of freedom in which Cpl. Cummings carried so well.”

A recent photo of Cummings rested on an easel beside a memorial of a helmet resting on a rifle with a set of identification tags and a pair of combat boots.  A Marine played “Taps” at the close of the service while all stood at attention.  Cummings’ platoon then came forward individually to pay their last respects.

“The first time I met Ryan we were on our first deployment with the 13th MEU,” Krabbe said. “We would compare our thrashings and argue over whose seniors were harder and who stood more fire watch.”

Krabbe recalled one of the stops on that MEU where he first met Cummings. He shared one of his favorite memories that lead to Cummings’ nickname.

“I remember being at the phone center in Djibouti, Africa with him,” Krabbe said.  “The Djiboutians would struggle with his name, and it would always come out ‘Rogin,’” Krabbe said. “The name ‘Rogin’ stuck with us and became his permanent calling card for me.”

Cummings stepped up when many others didn’t.  He extended on his contract to be able to deploy with B Company one last time before leaving the Marine Corps.

“Cpl. Cummings planned to leave the Marine Corps after returning home from this deployment. He looked forward to marrying his fiancée … and beginning a new life with her in Illinois,” said Capt. Wilson M. Hopkins III, the 33-year-old company commanding officer from Ridgefield, Conn.

Despite his desire to seek a life away from the Marine Corps, Cummings was praised for his motivation and courage to fight for his country.

“He was that special breed of man who fearlessly tasked himself with the defense of this great nation and all people less fortunate,” Furness explained.

Cummings graduated from Hoffman Estates High School in Illinois. He reported to recruit training in July 2002.  He completed the School of Infantry and obtained his military occupational specialty as a basic rifleman.

His awards include the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War of Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

“As we venture into harm’s way, we must hold our heads high,” Furness said. “With this we have the fine example that Ryan himself left – an example of selflessness and determination of duty and service.”