Featured News

Marines, Iraqis pause to honor fallen captain

26 Jul 2006 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

Marines, Army soldiers and Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Division paused their operations to honor a fallen Marine.

Capt. Christopher T. Pate, assigned to a Military Transition Team from 2nd Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, was memorialized in a service held on the grounds of the combat outpost where he trained, assisted and fought alongside Iraqi Army. He was killed in action July 21 while on patrol with those Iraqi soldiers. He was 29-years-old

Pate was memorialized by not just his fellow Marines, but by the Iraqi soldier whom he served alongside.

“Words are somewhat inadequate to sum up what a man was,” said Lt. Col. Scott D. Campbell, 2nd ANGLICO’s commanding officer. “He was a very intelligent man and one of the things I enjoyed most about him if you asked what time it is, he’d tell you what time it is and how to build the dang watch. He always had time for his Marines. He always had time for his peers.”

Campbell said Pate could often be found teaching his Marines and fellow officers the technical aspects of terminal air control, calling in air support, reading and interpreting aerial imagery and other vital field tactics.

“He spent a lot of time with me trying to make me computer savvy, which is quite a challenge,” Campbell explained. “Regardless of how big the challenge, Capt. Pate never backed away.”

Pate sought challenges through his life and career as a Marine. He graduated from Oregon Episcopal High School in Portland, Ore., in 1995 and later graduated from the University of Puget Sound 1999. That same year, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. After completion of The Basic School, he was selected as a ground intelligence officer and subsequently attended the Infantry Officers’ Course. In January-December of 2001, Pate was as a senior analyst and targeting officer for 3rd Marine Division’s Intelligence Section in Okinawa, Japan. He deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit as the reconnaissance and surveillance coordinator.

From January to August 2002, he was assigned as a Scout Sniper Platoon commander for 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and deployed to Okinawa, Japan under the Unit Deployment Program. From September 2002 to February 2004, Pate was assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion as a battalion intelligence officer. Pate deployed with a detachment from 2nd Battalion to Sana’a, Yemen, as a support and counterintelligence analyst for Special Operations Command Yemen. From February to October 2004, Pate participated in UNITAS. During a six-month deployment to South America as the intelligence officer, reconnaissance detachment officer-in-charge and counterintelligence coordinator. 

From October 2004 to July 2006, Pate served with 2nd ANGLICO as an intelligence officer and a Joint Terminal Air Controller to include two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

“He was the type of officer you never had to push,” Campbell said. “He was always taking the lead and if anything, you had to reign him in.”

Campbell explained that Pate was a reserve officer who specifically requested active duty in order to deploy again to Iraq.

“He was all about serving his country,” he said. “He spent a lot of time talking about what he’d do after he left ANGLICO and he was interested in maybe going into the Army as a Special Forces officer. He talked about Federal Law Enforcement. The truth about Capt. Pate was his future was about serving his country." 

Pate was described as a soft-spoken professional who was technically proficient and eager to work alongside his fellow Marines and Iraqi soldiers, or jundi. He was said to have an “intense work ethic” and “worked feverishly” to provide air support to the Iraqi soldiers he assisted.

"His knowledge and experience assisted the battalion and attachments greatly and provided them with reassurance he could whenever in need, Capt. Pate could bring down the pain from above,” said Lt. Col. James B. Zientek, 3rd Brigade’s Team Chief. “Chris believed in what he was doing and contributed greatly to our mission, facilitating the transition of security operations to the Iraqi Army.”

Maj. Tom Chalkley, the 2nd Battalion Team Chief, said Pate worked tirelessly to provide for his Iraqi counterparts.  He said during a response to a humvee accident, an Iraqi soldier was stuck under water and while the quick reaction force was moving to the accident scene, Pate was already there, calling in the casualty evacuation flight and setting up a landing zone. 

“He had the unique ability to always put himself in the right position, whenever there was a crisis,” Chalkey explained. “As a team leader, the best way to describe his leadership style was like a big brother to these guys.  He took them under his wing, he protected them. He chastised them when they did things wrong, but it was in a way that made them better and they learned from their mistakes.  Most of all, he shared the burden with them. He never asked them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself or something he hadn’t already done himself.”

Chalkley said that on the day Pate was killed, he volunteered to join the patrol, even though he wasn’t scheduled to go out. 

Pate’s decorations include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War or Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with four bronze stars.

“Although he’s departed our company, the memory of his life and sacrifice will live on with those of us who knew him,” Zientek said. “And the legacy he has left in these fields we know as the Jazeera will live on in the free people of Iraq for generations to come. Chris, you have fought the good fight. You have finished the race. You have kept the faith. Rest in peace, dear brother. Semper Fidelis.”