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Southern Calif.-based Marines memorialize Sun Valley, Nev., native, killed in Iraq

19 Aug 2006 | Cpl. Antonio Rosas

Marines and sailors stationed at a small, dusty outpost along one of Iraq’s main highways in Al Anbar Province gathered to pay their final respects to one of their own Aug. 19, 2006.

Lance Cpl. Jeremy Z. Long, a rifleman with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment lost his life Aug. 10, 2006, while conducting combat operations through a Euphrates River village near the Iraq-Syria border.

Long, an 18-year-old from Sun Valley, Nev., was about a month shy from returning to the United States with his battalion when he died.

The Marines based out of the outpost here, named “Veracruz,” provide security for villages along a stretch of road and encounter deadly roadside bombs on a regular basis – sometimes finding up to three in any given week.

At the time of his death, Long had already endured more than five months of service in Iraq, which he spent mentoring Iraqi Security Forces and conducting daily security patrols in 110-degree weather.

In the hours between conducting daily security patrols, Long kept himself busy reading the Bible. His goal was to read the entire Bible during the deployment, according to his platoon commander.

“I remember that he was a religious man and that he read the Bible often,” said 1st Lt. Craig O. Davis, platoon commander with Company A and Long’s commanding officer. “He was reading the Bible since the beginning of the deployment when we were sitting at March Air Force Base, waiting to leave the country.”

Marines here often carry religious icons and charms with them while they’re conducting security patrols, some for good luck -- others for Divine protection. Long carried a medal of St. Christopher. It stayed with him at all times, according to the Marines here.

As the members of Long’s squad stood by for a final roll call from their commanding officer, silence marked the absence of the young rifleman who often talked about his family to the men in his squad.

“He would tell us stories about his sister and his brother and how he looked after his mother,” said Lance Cpl. James E. Brewer, a 19-year-old rifleman from Purcell, Okla. “He loved his family and that’s what he always talked about.”

Brewer, one of Long’s closest friends, spent nearly every day of his “Marine Corps career” with Long – the two went to boot camp and infantry school together. They were assigned to their first duty station together with the battalion at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Pfc. Michael A. Phillips, a 20-year-old rifleman from Richardson, Texas, recalled Long as a person who spoke frequently about pro wrestling, and enjoyed playing video games.

“He was too nice to complain about anything,” said Phillips. “Even though he appeared to be quiet and shy, once you got to know the guy he was a total jokester and was very playful.”

For the Marines of Company A, who spend the majority of the day providing security for several Euphrates River villages near the Iraq-Syria border, there are few options for “passing the time” in between conducting security patrols.

To avoid the pitfalls of boredom, Long kept close to his two friends Brewer and Phillips, and they talked about everything from plans to attend college after their time in the Marines, to one day raising their own families.

“He planned to go to college in Nevada after the Marine Corps,” said Phillips. “He said he’d like to have a son someday.”

Phillips and Brewer recalled one of the last moments they shared with their friend and “brother in arms.”

They were putting on their roughly 60 pounds of body armor in order to conduct a security patrol in a nearby village. Someone had a camera and Long struck a funny pose with all of his gear on.

“That was just him,” said Phillips. “He was always doing something to crack you up.”  

The battalion is scheduled to return home to the states within the next several months and will be replaced by another southern California-based unit.

Email Cpl. Rosas, at rosasa@gcemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil