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Marines, Iraqi soldiers victims of IED

13 Sep 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment held a memorial service for their fallen comrades at their firm base Camp Baharia, Sunday.

A terrorist driver claimed the lives of seven Marines from Company F and three Iraqi soldiers with Company B, Specialized Special Forces Battalion, Sept. 6 by triggering an improvised explosive device concealed in his vehicle.

The Marines who were fatally wounded include:

Cpl. Joseph C. McCarthy, a 21-year-old rifleman from Concho, Calif.

Cpl. Mick R. Nygard-Bekowski, a 21-year-old rifleman from Concord, Calif.

Lance Cpl. Michael J. Allred, a 23-year-old rifleman from Hyde Park, Utah.

Lance Cpl. Lamont N. Wilson, a 20-year-old rifleman from Lawton, Okla.

Lance Cpl. Quinn A. Keith, a 21-year-old rifleman from Page, Ariz.

Lance Cpl. Derek L. Gardner, a 20-year-old motor transportation operator from San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Pfc. David P. Burridge, a 19-year-old rifleman from La Fayette, La.

"We're here to honor the sacrifice of ten brave men who gave their lives for causes greater than that of self," said Lt Col. Gregg P. Olson, the commanding officer of 2/1.

"These men, who served and died together, were devoted and dedicated to the same ideals," added Olson. "They fought alongside each other and were prepared to die in the service of the same causes...those of right and freedom."

Captain Kyle M. Stoddard remembers his Marines simply as "great kids."

"I remember when we were battling in Fallujah," said Stoddard, commanding officer of Company F. "They always fought the enemy hard and kept their motivation high everyday."

The incident occurred shortly after a combined-mission planning session between Marines and Iraqis for future security operations.  

While being transported to a rural area west of Fallujah, the Marines and Iraqi SSF soldiers were killed in a single VBIED attack.

"After the attack, the SSF and Marines established a joint perimeter around the site to protect themselves while the wounded and dead were evacuated," explained Olson.

The Iraqis and Americans remained together on the perimeter...the Iraqi SSF helped search a nearby village and questioned locals in search of any knowledge of the attack, added Olson.

While the men of Company F continue to cope with the loss of their fellow Marines, Olson said his charges are doing well.

"Morale in the battalion remains high...we mourn and honor the sacrifice of our fallen brothers - they will be missed," said Olson.

"We will use the event to remind us of the potential cost involved in undertaking such a noble venture, as the one we are currently undertaking," added Olson.