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Battalion honors three fallen warriors

2 Jun 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Marines of 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment paused to honor three men who gave the full measure for freedom.

A memorial service was held here June 2 to honor Pfc. Steven W. Freund, Lance Cpl. Robert G. Posivio III and an Iraqi linguist known to the Marines as David.  All three were killed in action May 23.  Freund, a 20-year-old, was from Pittsburgh; Posivio, a 22-year-old, was from Sherburn, Minn.; and David, a 20-year-old, was from Basra, Iraq. All three men were assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

The battalion is currently operating in Gharmah, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“These men were as different as words can describe and yet united in the vision of a free and peaceful Iraq,” said Lt. Col. David J. Furness, the 43-year-old battalion commander from Oceanside, Calif. “Their sacrifice is a testimony of service – service to one’s country and to each other.”

Furness said Posivio and Freund were veterans of previous battles in the area, defending their observation posts from insurgent attacks on at least two separate occasions.

Freund was a member of 2nd Squad, 4th Platoon.  He was known for his great sense of humor and a convincing Arnold Schwarzenegger impression.

“Steve was a walking comedian and an endless source of entertainment,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher M. Deschenes, a 20-year-old machine gunner from Oceanside, Calif. “Whether he was getting himself caught in concertina wire at Twentynine Palms and not being able to get out or crying out his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, he was always making us laugh.”

Freund had a rough start in life.  He bounced from foster home to foster home, until his aunt adopted him when he was 16.  Freund joined the Marine Corps in hopes of a new beginning.

“Freund told me stories about his life and living in his truck,” said Lance Cpl. Justin A. Devoll, a 25-year-old rifleman from Newark, Ohio. “Of how he hoped to start over in the Marine Corps.”

Freund was remembered for his heroic actions that helped save the lives of his fellow Marines during a recent mortar attack.  His career in the Marine Corps was a clear reflection of him reaching the goal he set out to accomplish, Devoll said.

Posivio was remembered for his down-home country upbringing. Raised on a small farm in Minnesota, he longed to return to his simple life and take over the family farm.

“Posivio was the type of man who loved to hunt and fish,” Furness said. “He loved to ride snowmobiles through the long Minnesota winters.”

Posivio was set to leave the Marine Corps in a few weeks.  He was making preparations to fly back to Camp Pendleton to begin his discharge process.

“Lance Cpl. Posivio had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen,” said Sgt. Brock T. Cisneros, a 21-year-old rifleman from Salt Lake City. “He was always willing to help out in hard times and times of confusion.”

David was the son of a sergeant major in the old Iraqi Army.  He hoped one day to join the new Iraqi Army to keep his nation free.  David worked within the company providing key linguistic support that was vital to the battalion’s mission.

“David, purely by his occupation, demonstrated a resolve we would all do well to emulate,” Furness said.

Freund received his general equivalent diploma from Thomas Jefferson High School in Pittsburgh.  He reported to recruit training in February 2005.  He completed the School of Infantry and obtained his military occupational specialty of basic rifleman.  His awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal.                                                       .

Posivio graduated from Martin County West High School in Sherburn, Minn.  He reported to recruit training in July 2002.  He completed the School of Infantry and obtained his military occupational specialty of basic rifleman.  His awards include the Purple Heart with gold star, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War of Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Recent photos of the three fallen rested on easels beside the traditional memorial – helmets resting on rifles.  Identification tags hung the rifles and in front, an empty set of combat boots.  A Marine played “Taps” at the close of the service while all stood at attention. 

Marines from the company then came forward individually to pay their last respects.

“These young men, both American and Iraqi, have through their actions and bravery, set an example for all of us,” Furness said.