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2nd Recon Battalion memorializes three fallen Marines

27 May 2006 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

Marines from 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion paused operations to memorialize three Marines who died as a result of wounds sustained in combat.

The three – Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro, Cpl. Cory L. Palmer and Cpl. William B. Fulks – were remembered by their fellow Marines at Camp Fallujah’s Chapel of Hope May 27.  They were wounded in an attack May 1.  Palmer died as a result of his wounds May 6, Carbonaro died May 10 and Fulks died May 18.  All were assigned to A Company, 1st Platoon.

Lt. Col. James N. Bright, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion’s commander, said the three Marines were “the true embodiment” of what it means to be a Recon Marine.  He used words such as “honor, perseverance, spirit and heart” to describe the three, adding each was “willing to answer their nation’s call to serve; each willing to deploy into harm’s way to help a people and nation live a dream that we all take for granted.  That dream is freedom.”

Capt. David M. Moreau, A Company’s commander, said the three shared a common bond with the more than 200 Marines and sailors gathered to honor them.  He said those shared qualities were spirit, drive, initiative and selfless devotion to duty and ultimately, to one another.

“Sgt. Carbonaro, Cpl. Palmer and Cpl. Fulks stood tall on the battlefield in Iraq as in all areas of life,” said Moreau, a 35-year-old from Pittsburg, Pa.  “They stood tall above the competition.  The mere fact that they set foot in that humvee on May 1, along with the other members of their team – knowing that threat was prevalent – was testament that they were there not for themselves, but the man their left and the man on their right.”

“Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro personified wisdom,” said 1st Lt. Thomas J. Waller, 1st Platoon’s commander.  “Refined in his ability to communicate, Alex quietly commanded the attention of the platoon.  His words and opinion were valued among every man and his good judgement was often sought by those both above him and below him.

“As his fellow Marines treated his wounds, he continued to ask about his team members, ignoring the pain that he himself endured,” said Waller, a 25-year-old from Ponchatoula, La.  “He truly cared for others more than himself, which is the mark of a great man and a true leader.  Alex and his caring nature and his wisdom will be missed.”

Carbonaro, from Bethesda, Md., graduated from Sandy Springs High School in 1997 and briefly worked for his uncle’s publishing company in Naples, Italy.  He joined the Marine Corps, graduating boot camp in 1998 and attended school for aviation electronics in Pensacola, Fla.  He was then stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.  Following that tour, he was assigned to Inspector and Instructor Staff, Marine Aircraft Group 49 in Newburgh, N.Y.  Carbonaro passed reconnaissance screening in November 2002 and was assigned to Reconnaissance Training Platoon and graduated Amphibious Reconnaissance School in December 2003, followed by Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in Brunswick, Maine.  This was his second tour in Iraq.

Carbonaro’s awards include the Purple Heart with gold star in lieu of second award, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal with bronze star in lieu in second award, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.  He was 28.

Palmer was described as energetic, full of intellect and strong-spirited.  Commanders commended him for his strength of character in adverse times and man of high standards.  He enjoyed sports, including surfing, wakeboarding, swimming, baseball, track and field, skateboarding and boxing.  He spoke often of his family.

“Cpl. Cory Palmer personified enthusiasm, enthusiasm for the Marine Corps, for having fun, but more importantly for his family and his brother Marines,” Waller said.  “He was a man who had great courage; courage to speak his mind and the courage to take the enemy face on.  Cory and his enthusiasm will be missed.”

Palmer, from Seaford, Del., graduated high school in 2001 and attended West Virginia University for one year before enlisting in February 2003.  He attended the School of Infantry following boot camp and took the reconnaissance screening, earning a spot at Reconnaissance Training Platoon in August 2003.  He completed ARS and SERE School and was assigned to A Company.  He graduated Army Airborne School, Marine Corps Sniper School, Marine Combatant Diver School and attended Joint Tactical Air Controller Primer Course.

His awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, 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 was 21.

“Cory was the type of guy who was always full of life and wanted something bigger and better,” said Cpl. Derek R. Herkes, a 21-year-old from New Lenox, Ill.  “We share the same love.  That love was for the people we worked with and not necessarily the work.  One thing I learned from Cory is it’s not how long you live your life… but how much fun you have living it.”

Fulks was born at Hill Air Force Base and grew up Culloden W.V., in an Air Force family.  He attended Midland High, participating in football, track and boxing.  He competed in the Golden Gloves Boxing Championship and while a member the Milton Boxing Club, earned the State Championship two times. 

“It’s easy to see where Brad developed that strong patriotic spirit,” Waller said.  “It’s from his family.  He left college after his freshman year, enlisting in the Marine Corps, serving his country with pride.  Cpl. Fulks was a stoic, friendly, respectful man, Marine, brother and son.” 

Fulks graduated high school in 2001 and attended Marshall University for one year.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended boot camp in September 2003.  Following that, he completed the School of Infantry, becoming an assaultman.  He was assigned to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan in March 2004.  Following this deployment, he completed reconnaissance screening and was assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.  He is a graduate of ARS, SERE and Army Airborne School.

Fulks’ awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

“I knew Brad Fulks as a tough, quiet, powerful man,” said Cpl. Jeff D. Elmore, a 20-year-old from Southbury, Conn. “He … had the smooth country accent that made people pay attention to what he was saying.  Brad was a guy people liked being around.  Brad could fight, but he didn’t broadcast it to everyone.  He just let you know with a glare and a couple words that you’d gone too far.  He was always the guy with a beer or a song for me when I was bored or had a bad day.”

Three inverted rifles, helmets, boots and identification tags were placed in front of portraits of the Marines.  On one rifle, in honor of Palmer, a single rifle slug hung from parachute cord, a tribute to his sniper background.

Taps was played and Marines came forward, one-by-one, to offer their final thoughts and prayers.

“We must look at their passing as a passage to a place where their strength, their toughness, wisdom and enthusiasm will be used for a much greater cause,” Waller said.  “They remain among us, watching over the platoon, using their talents to protect us against evil, which is a much greater foe than anything we’ll face on earth’s battlefield.  Brad, Alex and Cory, we’ll miss you and we’ll miss the joy you brought to our lives.”