CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- The rugged hand-painted sign reads:
In memory of
Maj. James Matthew Weis
Killed in action July 22, 2010
Trek Nawa, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
For the past year, it has been displayed outside the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron flight line on Camp Bastion, but soon it will return to the United States to honor the memory of the AH-1W Cobra pilot who gave his life in service to his country.
Weis’ brother, Scott, a Marine major currently serving with Regimental Combat Team 7 in Helmand province, accepted the sign from Lt. Col. Garrett Hoffman, the commanding officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169, Apr. 26, here.
Hoffman, who served as the squadron executive officer with Weis at the time of his death, remembered Weis as an affable “Marine’s Marine” and dedicated family man.
“He was a warfighter and great AH-1W pilot who was dedicated to supporting his fellow Marines both on the ground and in the air,” Hoffman said.
Weis, a Toms River, N.J. native, died when his helicopter was struck by surface-to-air missiles. He was providing air support to Marines on the ground that were in a firefight with insurgents, said Hoffman.
Scott said taking the sign home after his deployment ends this fall will bring a small piece of closure, and he is grateful for the opportunity to personally collect the memorial Marines created in honor of his brother.
“It means a great deal to me to know that others honor and miss him,” said Scott. “He was a good man, father and Marine that left a lasting impression on everyone he met.”
The Weis family spent their summers boating and fishing in Key Largo, Fla., and Scott plans on taking the sign back to a house the family still owns in the Florida Keys.
“Now that I’ve received this sign, I plan to get it back to the (U. S.) and down to the house in Key Largo,” said Scott. “From that point forward, for us, it will be known as ‘Camp Weis.’”
The Marines of HMLA-169 have already constructed and painted a new sign to replace the one Scott is taking from Afghanistan. It will also hang outside the flight line, in prominent view to all who come into the compound.
“It serves as a reminder to all of us to never forget your fallen brothers,” said Hoffman. “To never forget the sacrifices made by every Marine, sailor and coalition force in Afghanistan.”