Da Grunt's Support Team!

By: A Jarheads Dad

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Monday, 31-Jan-2011 23:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
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Toys For Tots
I have turned off the comments due to spam desecrating this site. If you would like to post a comment just PM me and I'll allow it. Sorry to have to do this but 23 spams at a time is getting way too much for me to police!

Semper Fi,

Monday, 17-May-2010 14:30 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Semper Fidelis


Sunday, 22-Oct-2006 16:05 Email | Share | | Bookmark
War is Hell!

Cpl Kris Keller
Jack Of All Trades!
Kris & Little Sis Elizabeth - Homecoming '06
War Is Hell!

I remember like it was yesterday when our young Marine came marching out on the parade deck of Parris Island sporting a brand new chevron proclaiming him a PFC in the United States Marine Corps! A merit stripe earned in the sand fleas and swamps of South Carolina. God how proud I was. I bet I stood a full two inches taller. His Mom squeezing my hand harder as his Training Battalion passed the stands. The tears of pride I enjoyed wiping from her cheeks. The virility, the strength, a man where a boy should stand. It was all there.

From that day forward our home became a staging area of sorts for the next four years and even now. Young Marines we met on that very same Parade Deck stopping in on their way one place or another knowing they would get a home cooked meal and lodging with others of their kind. After SOI they came in bunches, full of themselves, cocky, with the innate ability to use the F word as a noun, adjective, verb, adverb. All in the same sentence! Vulgar? Not for a minute. These are young men that enlisted in a time their country is at war, knowing full well what they were facing and where they were headed. They are young men "with the bark on" as the saying goes from my generation. Respectful to Mom and Sis to the max, loving them after minutes of meeting them. You could see the protection trait in them even then. The seriousness they held in their minds of what they were doing was embodied in their Moms and Sisters, Girlfriends and Fiancées, Wives and Daughters. A finer lot of young fire eaters you could never imagine!

The first deployment. A float into that blur we didn't understand as newbies called "Operation Southern Watch". OIF 1, 2, 3&4 combined. The good-byes, the hellos, the world of roller coasters that is the Corps. Hurry up and wait. Deployment extended. Deployment shortened. Deployment day moved. Again. And again. Return date moved. Again. And again. The unbelievable insanity that is The Corps to those that have never dealt with Her. Agonizing. Slow. Then afterburner fast and they are gone. Then here. Sleep when? What is sleep? People offering condolences and understanding. For what? They do not know. They can only guess. Carry on. Face the day. Stay away from the news. DO. NOT. GO. NEAR. BEDWETTERS. Stay loose. Stay calm. Be the rock your Marine is and is counting on in you.

Bury your dead. Those bright eyes and bravado dressed in Marine cammies you knew and loved. Those young men that went to war with one of your own so full of purpose. Those young men that died not fighting for their country but instead for their Brother Marine next to them. Those young men that died fighting for their Moms, Sisters, Girlfriends, Wives, and Children. This is what protects a nation. This is what real Honor, Integrity, Duty is all about. You lose the first one and it destroys you. Rips your heart right out through your guts. Then another. And another. Then they come in bunches. Full scale battles head into insurgency, snipers, and IEDs. It's like you walk around in a daze for seven months at a clip. Fearing to go home and hear the news. Afraid of what will be in your inbox. Scared to check with all the other Marine parents going through the same thing. And yet? Through it all that same pride you felt on Graduation Day at P.I. courses through your veins and sustains your heart. You truly understand what type of young men these are and could shout it from the Mountain!

You busy yourself helping your kids in their daily lives. You watch your daughter grow through Club soccer, high school, and listen to the drivel that is the protected class when a Soccer Mom goes off on "George Bush's War". You look at this 30 pounds of overweight shoved into spandex screaming at refs, her daughter, your daughter, on the touches, and you look over at your lovely little Bride sitting there calmly taking it all in. That little Woman with a body of a goddess sitting there calmly, the mother of four with a son in harm's way, and you smile at the sheer insanity of the protected. They do not understand and never will. They do not wake in the middle of the night thinking they heard the phone or the chime of a message hitting the inbox. Hoping, praying, trusting in God to bring her son back to her. Crying herself back to sleep and all you can do is hold on tight. No, you stand there and take it all in knowing these people are given the right to vote by men of your son's caliber and making sure to rein in any feelings that may be regurgitating to the tip of your tongue. Your daughter trots off the field, "Kris call Daddy?". No. Not today. Fourteen years old and scared to death for worry over her big brother. Her other brothers taking up the slack and the usual bickering non-existent during deployments. Everyone is almost holding their breath. Waiting. Nothing to do but wait!

They're home. You've died twenty-two times along with the parents of their Fallen Brothers. The pain never truly subsides. It never, ever gets easier. It is always there. The unbelievable underground support network that is the strength of The Corps takes care of you. And you it. The false emotions do not go into those places. Humanity is stripped bare where we dwell. Life is all about getting through it. Gold Star parents are worshipped. They are our rock stars. They are us if not by some deflection, SAPI plate, lucky turn when the IED blows the humvee to hell and back. They are Honor personified. The Marine Wives of the Fallen are our American Idols. They are Integrity, Strength, Life. They deserve the pillar we put them on and will always have our hearts. They are all that is Good. They are Sacrifice! God Bless 'em all!

You wait. Again. And again. There he is. Stepping off that damn slow bus. You can see the death in his eyes from where you stand. The Stare. The flatness and lack of emotion shines from the depths of what used to be the light. You take in everything at a glance. The skinny form where the beef used to be. The scars already healed. The stiffness of his walk and the sheer power that exudes from him. The unbelievable animal magnetism that screams his manhood. You take that in as you watch his Mom and Sis attack him in a hug. There was a tiny flicker of light forming in his eyes when he first spied them that has now become a full glow that threatens to light up the night. Happiness for the first time in awhile envelops him. You worry that deadness will return and has it entered his very soul? Thoughts only of a dad. But that light! Ah, you know he will heal, you know he stands true, you know he is loved, and love heals all!

But most of all, you stand there while the women folk fuss over him and notice the numbers missing. You notice the ones that aren't here. You witness the ones that he saw last as he put them in the MEDEVAC broken and bleeding surround him and shout to the rooftops with hilarity. You see the bond of real men and real brotherhood staring at you in the face. You stand there and remember that Pride from Parris Island and it washes over you anew! Then it is your turn and that young Marine walks up to you, shakes your hand looking you dead in the eye, and tells you he is home. There are no words to describe the Pride a dad has for his Son at that time. No words can do it justice. The pain he knows I carry for his Fallen Brothers because he carries it too. Were it I could carry his burdens and he understands. The meeting of a dad and his Son. The same as it's been throughout history. Two men that believe in one another.

Yeah, half the folks in this great nation that these young men and women sacrifice for will never, ever "get it". I will also never, ever stand down in their stead either. My strength is much greater than theirs. Mine was forged in the fires of Hell! Theirs given them by men and women they will never understand.

Get it?

I do. We do!
Fair Winds and Following Seas!

In Loving Memory


GySgt. Ronald Baum
Sgt. Michael Speer
Cpl. Chris Belchik
LCpl. Brian Kelly
LCpl. Nick Morrison
LCpl. Andrew Zabierek

OIF 3&4

2dLt. James Cathey
Pfc. Shane Cabino
Cpl. Nicholas Cherava
LCpl. Jason Frye
LCpl. Patrick Kenny
SSgt. Richard Pummil
LCpl. Andrew Russoli
LCpl. Steven Szwydek
LCpl. Kenneth Butler
Cpl. Benny Cockerham III
HM3 Chris Thompson
Cpt. Tyler Swisher
Sgt. Michael Hodshire
LCpl. Nicholas Schiavoni
LCpl. Tyler Troyer
Sgt. Sean Miles

At Home

Cpl. Timothy Foshay

Fair Winds and Following Seas Warlords! Semper Fidelis!

Saturday, 21-Oct-2006 12:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
An Annivesary of Life!

Cpl Benny G. Cockerham

The Tribute Book is still open for Gray Cockerham. Cpt Swisher, Doc Thompson, Cpl Cockerham, and LCpl Butler KIA Oct 21, 2005. LCpl Szwydek, LCpl Russoli, and SSgt Pummil KIA Oct 20, 2005. The week that ripped our hearts right out of our chests!



Posted on Sat, Oct. 21, 2006


Grieving family views life in shades of Gray
Beloved son. Brave fighter. One of 2,787 dead.

Today, Gray Cockerham's family will visit him at the only place they can, the address etched in their memory: Section 60, headstone 8290, Arlington National Cemetery.

Exactly one year has passed since the Hickory Marine was killed outside of Fallujah, Iraq. He was 21.

One year, and Ben and Jill Cockerham say they still think of their oldest son every minute. In the morning, at night before they go to sleep, with each meal they eat. The death they didn't want to believe has become something they cannot let fade.

Three and a half years into the Iraq war, at least 2,787 American troops have died. This month is on track to be the third deadliest for U.S. forces since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.

War is inevitable, and there has to be someone with the guts to fight it, said Ben, 46, a former Marine himself. The Cockerhams didn't want to discuss their politics. Marines, he said, fight for their country, not a political party.

Cpl. Benny Gray Cockerham III, known to everyone as Gray, was in constant motion from the time he was a baby, never able to sit still, always ready to throw himself into outdoor activity, the more challenging the better.

He snowboarded, wakeboarded, Jet Skied, hunted, fished, played paintball and ran and dove across the field as an all-region forward on the St. Stephens High School soccer team.

For Gray, his father says, it was never a matter of "no," but "how."

He was good at anything he put his mind to, Ben said, but needed to find what he was interested in. He wanted his parents to tell him. Figure it out on your own, they said. So he did.

In March 2003, Ben came home from work and his younger son, Adam, greeted him at the door. "Guess what Gray did today?" he said.

Gray had joined the Marines.

There, he won friends as a jokester and earned respect with his smarts and loyalty, said his two best friends from the Corps, Cpl. Gary Bell and Lance Cpl. Jim Faleris.

But he returned from his first tour of duty a different man. Wounded by a mortar round in the battle of Fallujah in April 2004, and awarded a Purple Heart, he seemed older in appearance, outlook and demeanor.

He became closer to his family, more patient and easygoing. One day, Jill noticed Gray standing in the driveway, staring at the sky. "What are you doing?" she asked. "Looking at the clouds," he replied. "You don't see clouds in Iraq."

The night before Gray left for his second tour of duty, in July 2005, he planned his own funeral. I want it done exactly like I said, he told his father.

"Tell everyone in the family I love them," Gray said when he phoned Jill on Oct. 18, 2005, promising to call back the following Sunday.

Three days later, at about 9:30 p.m., Ben and Jill were coming home from a Hickory restaurant and noticed a white van in their driveway. "Who drives a white van?" they wondered.

When Ben and Jill parked, the occupants of the white van opened their doors. As they did, the van's dome light came on, illuminating two Marines in dress blues.

The Marines stepped from the van. "We regret to inform you there was an explosion," they said. Gray was missing. Recovery operations were under way.

Ben knew what the military language meant. Jill held out hope. If anyone could have made it, she thought, Gray would have.

On Monday night, the Marines phoned. Gray had been found in a canal next to the road.

In the months that followed, Ben and Jill learned the full story of Gray's death: He and four other men were headed to a rural area to discuss security issues with tribal leaders. Gray sat in the front, navigating.

At about 2:30 p.m., they rolled over a 500-pound bomb that had been buried since at least the summer, somersaulting the Humvee.

Gray's body was flown to Arlington, outside Washington, from Charlotte/Douglas airport. "The hardest thing I've ever had to do," Ben said, "is watch my child lifted on a forklift, in a crane, and put on an airplane."

Living with it

Jill, 45, travels to Arlington every month; Ben visits almost as much. They expect to do so the rest of their lives.

There are times they want to block out what happened, Jill said, but Arlington makes it real. There, they run into Marines who knew or knew of their son, and they see others going through the same thing. It's almost, Jill said, like they become your family.

Each time they make the trip, they notice that the rows of tombstones have grown.

Gray was killed that October day with three other men, two of whom -- Chris Thompson, 25, of Millers Creek, outside Wilkesboro, and Kenneth Butler, 19, of Landis -- were from N.C. towns about an hour apart.

Staff Sgt. Jason Ramseyer, 28, of Lenoir, who was killed by a roadside bomb in April, lies about 10 graves away. His birthday: Oct. 21.

Ben is both proud and remorseful about the way his son died. Jill feels differently but declines to elaborate.

They realize life goes on.

In this country, we concern ourselves with who won the football game, Ben said. We drive down the road talking on our cell phones. We have televisions and cars and nice homes. We worry about the lyrics to rap songs.

"All this other stuff seems so trivial, and the reason it feels trivial is that the armed forces let it be trivial, afford us the luxury to squabble, sit here and live everyday lives," Ben said. "My son gave his life so that everyone else could have that trivial existence."

Jill rarely watches television these days. She doesn't bother reading Better Homes and Gardens. Instead, she sought out a recent issue of Soldier of Fortune, which ran an article and photo about Gray's unit, the Warlords -- 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.

Earlier this month, Ben was in a restaurant where the TV was tuned to CNN. The announcer mentioned that three Marines had been killed in Iraq. "No one even stopped their conversations," Ben said. "It's a non-event for them. It's like there was a train wreck in Siberia."

In early October, Ben and Jill moved to Winston-Salem, a change they had been planning for years but delayed until Adam graduated from high school.

Before they left Hickory, Jill planned to take the flag they flew at their home to the 90-year-old veteran across the street who, rain or shine, would walk over with help from his wife and salute. Instead, the man came over himself to pick it up. "For the rest of my life," he told Jill, "I will salute that flag."

At their new home, the Cockerhams no longer imagine seeing the white van in the driveway, as they had every day since last Oct. 21. They do not run into people in town who look at them like they don't know what to say.

But reminders remain. Framed photos of Gray and Adam rest on the leather couch, waiting to be hung. Propped above the fireplace is a giant oil painting of an Iraqi woman, her eyes downcast, her back turned -- a birthday present from Gray to Ben.

The woman in the picture is scantily clad, but Gray bought it because he admired the artist's work. It arrived in Hickory about a week before Gray's death, and Jill didn't know what to do with such a thing. Now, she wants to display it, because her son saved up for it and told her to appreciate it as art.

Adam, now 18 and a college freshman, has asked, "How much longer before our house gets back to normal?"

Jill has a reply. "I don't think it ever will."

Friday, 22-Sep-2006 19:31 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Fair Winds Corporal of Marines!

Cpl Timothy Foshay
OIF 2 (then) LCpl Timothy Foshay
Friday, September 22, 2006

Marine, just discharged, dies in crash

Staff Writer

Copyright © 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

VASSALBORO -- Timothy E. Foshay returned home last month, eager to reconnect with friends and family after four years in the U.S. Marine Corps that included three tours in Iraq.
He was preparing for English courses at the University of Maine at Augusta, and had just found a new apartment to live in, said Timothy's mother, Ann Foshay.

"He hadn't even gotten a chance to move in yet," she said.

Foshay, 22, died Wednesday night after losing control of his 1995 Acura. Police say he was speeding when his car overturned and rolled into some trees and rocks on Holman Day Road in Vassalboro. Foshay, who was ejected from his car, was dead by the time police arrived, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety

Ann Foshay said that her son -- enrolled at UMA as an English major -- got out of the Marines on early release so he could attend school. At the time of his discharge, he was a corporal serving with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.

"He loved his family and was enjoying getting back from four years away and connecting with friends," Ann Foshay said. As one of 10 children in his family, Timothy was the second oldest, and oldest boy, she said.

"He was planning on doing the Appalachian Mountain trail in three months when it took most people six -- but he had it all worked out," she said.

Those who knew Foshay, a graduate of Waterville High School, said that he was a bright, nonjudgmental young man.

"He was kind of quiet and very, very smart," said Jo Comeau, Foshay's guidance counselor at Waterville High.

"He was somewhat of a renaissance guy who played guitar and was very easy to be with," Comeau said. "His death is very sad."

Elizabeth Comeau -- 623-3811, Ext. 433



# 1 - Former U.S. Marine Timothy Foshay stands for photograph while serving his second tour in Iraq with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines in April 2005. Foshay, 22, of Vassalboro died Tuesday night in a one-vehicle accident in Vassalboro, nearly a month after completing his four years of service

# 2 - I was searching back through the archives and ran across this picture of Foshay. I do not remember if this was before or after the 1st Battle of Fallujah but it was definitely during OIF2. Fair Winds and Following Seas Corporal of Marines! - JHD

There was a new presence on the roads near Mahmudiyah recently. Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division attached to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment to help protect the roads and bridges to keep supply lines open. Here an M-1A1 Abrams tank crew posts security on the supply route.

(Then) Lance Cpl. Timothy E. Foshay, a rifleman with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, provides security for his vehicle during a patrol recently. He wasn't alone this time, though. Close by was a 70-ton, M-1A1 Abrams tank. Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division attached to the task force recently to help provide security to the nearby supply route. The tanks are a welcome sight to the Marines who appreciate the psychological and tactical impact the tanks have on enemy forces

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