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Regimental Combat Team 5 honors three fallen scouts

1 May 2006 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

Cpl. Pablo V. Mayorga was the “old man” of Scout Platoon.  Lance Cpl. Derrick J. Cothran was the platoon’s “fitness stud” and Pfc. Ryan G. Winslow lost more than 100 pound just for the chance to be a Marine.

The three were remembered and honored at Camp Fallujah’s Chapel of Hope May 1.  They were killed in action April 15.  Mayorga was 33, Cothran was 21 and Winslow was just 19.  They served in Iraq with Scout Platoon, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5.  They were on duty with a combined force called “Team Gator” for a route security mission when they were killed.

Col. Larry D. Nicholson, RCT-5’s commander addressed the crowd of more than 300 Marines who gathered to honor the three.  They were overflowing, standing in the back through the hour-long ceremony.

“I was particularly impressed with the 27 men of Scout Platoon,” Nicholson recalled of first meeting the Marines less than one month ago.  “They are a small platoon with a big heart.”

That character, he said, was indicative of Mayorga, Cothran and Winslow.  Mayorga, he explained, was an immigrant from Ecuador on his second deployment to Iraq.  Cothran was a blue-chip football player who tried his hand at the college-level before becoming a Marine.  Winslow was repeatedly turned away by Marine recruiters for being over weight standards, but lost enough to make the journey to boot camp.

“The president personally called the Winslow family to express his condolences,” Nicholson said.  “There are no magic pills … to take away the grief.  I tell my staff there will be good days and bad days.  April 15, 2006, will forever be a bad day.”

Capt. William E. O’Brien, Team Gator’s commander, spoke directly to the platoon of scouts, seated at the front of the chapel, directly across from three inverted rifles, helmets mounted on top and identification tags hanging from the pistol grips.  On the floor, was an empty pair of boots along with a portrait of each Marine.

“The day they were taken from us, we all lost a little bit of ourselves,” said O’Brien, a 35-year-old from Moline, Ill.  “These Marines were the epitome of selflessness.  Their friendship and camaraderie will be sorely missed.”

Mayorga was recalled by friends and commanders as a steady influence on the platoon.  He was older than most.  He didn’t join the Corps until he was 28.  He was known to always have a story and ready to offer advice. 

Cothran was a competitive soul, according to Marines who spoke.  He never settled for second place, always trying to be the best in every challenge.  He was professional with all he knew, but joked freely with those he called close friends.

Winslow watched the television game show “Jeopardy” almost to the point of fanaticism.  He called all his friends together in his barracks room at Camp Lejeune to watch with him.  One Marine said Room 107, HP 415 – Winslow’s barracks room – will never be so inviting again.

Mayorga, from Ecuador, settled in Lauderhill, Fla.  He joined the Marine Corps in 2003 and attended the School of Infantry becoming an infantryman and TOW crewman.  His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

He is survived by his wife, Paola K. Mayorga and their two children Stephanie and Alexander as well as his parents Rodrigo G. and Betty M. Mayorga.

Cothran was from Kenner, La.  He joined the Marine Corps in 2005 and attended the School of Infantry, becoming an infantryman, TOW crewman and Anti-Tank Assaultman.  His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He is survived by his wife Victoria F. Cothran and his parents Ted M. and Elena A. Cothran.

Winslow was from Hoover, Ala., and joined the Marine Corps in 2005.  He attended the School of Infantry becoming an infantryman, TOW crewman and Anti-Tank Assaultman.  His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He is survived by his parents George A. and Mary N. Winslow.

“We will honor them by continuing to do what they would have done,” O’Brien said.  “Their loss will not tarnish the nobleness of our cause”

Prayers were recited and the barking voice of 1st Sgt. Michael J. Hendges cut through the quiet hall.  He called Final Roll, calling each Marine’s name three times.  A lone bugler played the mournful strains of “Taps” in a final salute.  Soon after, Marines filed up to each rifle and offered prayer, touching helmets as they prayed holding the identification tags and murmuring final prayers for their fallen.

“Today, as you hear the haunting sound of ‘Taps,’ I as you to keep their image and spirit alive,” Nicholson said.  “They did not die in vain.  They died freeing a nation.  Their sacrifice will long be a part of the ‘Fighting 5th Marines.’”