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Cpl Nick Cherava

Fair Winds and Following Seas Cpl Cherava

Several followed Cherava's lead

Published Tuesday, October 18, 2005 1:09:16 PM Central Time


Globe Staff Writer

ONTONAGON -- Jim, Craig, Mike and Dave called him "The Recruiter."

Marine Cpl. Nick Cherava, who died Oct. 6 in Iraq and was buried Monday in Ontonagon, was one year older than Jim Schmidt, Craig Plutchak, Mike Mansell and Dave Sirvio. All four followed Cherava's lead and enlisted in the U.S. Marines.

Cherava graduated with the Ontonagon Area High School Class of 2003, the others in 2004. He was eventually assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Carol Gingerich, a 2003 classmate of Nick's also entered the Marines.

Schmidt's mother, Cindy, and Craig's dad, Jim, said that Nick loved being a Marine and convinced the others to enlist. "He was even rewarded by the Marines for being such a good recruiter," Cindy said.

The four young men returned to Ontonagon and marched in the 2004 Ontonagon Labor Festival Parade. Just out of boot camp, they were proud, handsome Marines.

Nick and Mike Mansell were sent to Iraq. For Nick it was his second tour. Schmidt, Plutchak, and Sirvio are in Afghanistan.

Mike Mansell was injured in Iraq just days before Cherava was killed. Mansell sustained a broken left leg and a ruptured artery when the vehicle he was riding in hit some loose turf and sank. The vehicle overturned.

As Mansell was loaded on the helicopter, Cherava told medics, "Take care of him, he is my good friend." Days later, Cherava was killed by an improvised explosive device while conducting operations against enemy forces near Al Karmah.

Mansell is now being treated at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.

Cindy Schmidt said Nick's death and Mike's accident have been very hard on all three of the classmates in Afghanistan.

"They have been very sad, and we are urging friends to write to them and tell them how much we appreciate their service," Cindy Schmidt said.

Two more members of the OAHS Class of 2004 have since enlisted in the Marines. Scott Jackson and Kirk Kaurala are at the School of Infantry, Marine Corps, and Scott's brother, Roy Jackson, left for Marine boot camp Sept. 12.

The latest enlistment brings to six the members of the Class of 2004 who were influenced directly or indirectly by the young Marine who was buried Monday.

Only Gingerich was able to return to Ontonagon for her classmate's funeral. In the congregation at Holy Family Catholic Church were parents of the Marines still in Afghanistan.

Schmidt, Plutchak and Sirvio all wanted to return for the funeral of their friend. "They nearly got a chance to come home and be pallbearers, but were told that since Nick was not a relative, they could not get leave," Cindy Schmidt said.

In a way, the group is related -- as friends, brothers and Marines.

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