Company memorializes two fallen Marines

11 May 2004 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

The crack of rifles was startling.  Inside this small outpost for Marines of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, the volley of fire was rattling even for these battle-hardened Marines.

Three times, the seven rifles fired.  It was a final salute for Cpl. Dustin H. Schrage and Cpl. Jeffrey G. Green.  The two were honored in a memorial service here May 11. 

The corporals, both 19, went missing May 3 while crossing the Euphrates River during a combat patrol.  Three days later, their bodies were found not far from the spot where they were believed to have vanished. 

"We are reminded that we continue to stand watch in a place that is dangerous," said Navy Lt. Brian P. Weigelt, the battalion's chaplain.  "With the news of two missing Marines, our hearts sank.

"You searched tirelessly," Weigelt said to the company of Marines gathered for the service.  "All were committed to finding your missing brothers and you did not stop until you found them."

Both Marines were members of Company F's 1st Platoon.  Green was born June 20, 1983 and Schrage just months later on Sept. 20, 1983.  They both joined the Marine Corps in June 2001.  Green was from Irving, Texas.  Schrage was from Indian Harbor Beach, Fla.  Both were graduates of the Scout Swimmers Course.

"They were two men from different backgrounds united by a common responsibility," said Lt. Col. Paul J. Kennedy, battalion commander.  "They shared a desire to excel and seek greater responsibility.  They stood in front of their company.  They never flinched from their mission.  These two men were made of the iron the Marine Corps enjoys."

Staff Sgt. Kevin H. Shelton, platoon sergeant for both Marines, recalled the character of both Marines.  He described Green as a Marine who loved to wear the latest field gear.  He said Green confiscated a cigarette lighter from and Iraqi man at a checkpoint that was fashioned to look exactly like a Beretta pistol.

"He actually took a lighter with him when he went out to look more intimidating," Shelton said.  "I know right now they're looking down upon us, probably busting my chops.  They loved to do that."

2nd Lt. Matthew W. Brooks said the Marines were always joking and were often seen sharing a smoke or a few quiet words with their fellow Marines at all hours of the day.

"I don't have the words to tell you how much these two mean to me or this platoon," Brooks said. 

Pfc. Brandon A. Winneshiek, a member of 1st Platoon, told the gathering that the two corporals were more than leaders.

"Before I joined the Marine Corps, my uncle told me I'd meet my best friends in the Marine Corps," Winneshiek said.  "That's what Dustin and Jeff were to me."

The ceremony was stoic and, at times, heart-rending.  The Marines stood ramrod straight as the company first sergeant called out roll for the Marines.  Both Schrage's and Green's names were called three times with no reply.

The cracks of the rifle volleys followed.

"This has sobered us to the reality of this war," Kennedy said.  "The reality is there are bad men out there who seek to deny freedoms we take for granted.  We will continue on this mission.

"Their sacrifice is not in vain," he continued.  "Let us honor their sacrifice and rededicate ourselves in our mission."

Schrage is survived by his parents, Preston and Nina Schrage.  Green is also survived by his parents, Richard and Wendy Green.