HADITHA, Iraq -- Just weeks into a seven-month deployment in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province, Hawaii-based Marines from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment held a memorial service Oct. 1, 2006, at the Haditha Dam for a Marine killed in action recently.
More than 150 Marines, sailors and soldiers gathered at the dam – where 2nd Battalion is based in this region of Al Anbar Province – to remember the life of Lance Cpl. James P. Chamroeun, a 20-year-old from Union City, Ga.
Chamroeun, described by fellow Marines as a “soft-spoken but friendly guy,” died Sept. 28 of wounds received while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
“One of the most memorable things about Chamroeun was the way he talked – real slow,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Glaymeyer, a field radio operator for 2nd Battalion and friend of Chamroeun. “He had this catch phrase – ‘Whoa.’ Whenever he said it people would always smile. I will really miss him.”
Chamroeun, a field radio operator, was a member of a U.S. military Explosive Ordnance Disposal security team in the Haditha Triad region of Haditha, Barwanah and Haqlaniyah. In Iraq, EOD teams regularly investigate and destroy roadside bombs and enemy weapons and munitions caches.
Chamroeun joined 2nd Battalion in 2005. He graduated from basic training in Oct. 2004 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
"Learning of Lance Cpl. Chamroeun's death hit me hard," said 1st Lt. Jonathan Stoddard, Chamroeun’s platoon commander. "Instantly the war in Iraq became much more than distant news reports."
As the ceremony memorializing Chamroeun began in the dimly lit dam, Marines listened to friends and fellow Marines recount their memories of him.
“It didn’t matter if he was asked to do something simple or something that other Marines would complain about, he attacked it in a steady way and got the job done,” said Stoddard.
"I'll always remember the late night conversations we had. We’d talk about everything," said Lance Cpl. Kyle Kirkman, a fellow field radio operator, and roommate of Chamroeun for more than a year. "Chamroeun will always be a friend to me. He won't be just another person I've met along my life. I will carry a little piece of him with me everywhere I go."
Following the Marines’ comments, 1st Sgt. Craig J. Cowart, senior enlisted advisor for 2nd Battalion’s Headquarters and Service Company, gave a final company role call.
After calling out the names of several other Marines in the formation, who all quickly responded with a loud, “here, 1st Sgt.”
Cowart called Chamroeun’s name three times – each time Cowart was met with a solemn silence.
Following the ceremony, those in attendance took their turn to kneel in front of Chamroeun’s memorial – represented by Chamroeun’s rifle, military boots, dog tags and photo – for one last chance to say some parting words, pray or touch the fallen Marine’s boots for the last time.
This was Chamroeun’s second deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism – he spent seven months with 2nd Battalion in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006.
Chamroeun’s military awards include the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
E-mail Cpl. Blom at email@example.com