October 20

Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, USMC

The Department of Defense announced on October 21 the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died Oct. 20 as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Bascom, a member of the Individual Ready Reserves, was mobilized and assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

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Associated Press -- WASHINGTON -- As the wife of a 25-year Air Force veteran, Debra Bascom has long dreaded the day that word would arrive on her doorstep that her husband had died on a distant battlefield. ''It never occurred to me that such an incident would occur for my son instead,'' she wrote in a letter this week to President Bush describing the pain of losing her oldest son, Marine Corps Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colo. He was killed by insurgents in western Iraq on Oct. 20. Bascom is one of more than 1,100 American troops who have died in the Iraq conflict, but the first from a rarely mobilized sector of the military known as the Individual Ready Reserve. Hundreds of the Army's Individual Ready Reserve have failed to report for duty on time since the Army began sending out mobilization orders to individual reservists last summer, but Debra Bascom said her son never hesitated when the Marine Corps called last April with his orders. ''He wanted to go to Iraq and fight and serve,'' she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. Individual Ready Reserve members are people who were honorably discharged after finishing their active-duty service, usually four to six years, but remained in the ready reserve for the rest of the eight-year commitment they made when they joined the Army. They are separate from the reserve troops who are more routinely mobilized the National Guard and Reserve. Bascom joined the Marines at age 19 and spent four years on active duty. Once he was out of uniform he began to feel out of place, knowing that thousands of Marines were fighting in Iraq. ''He was a Marine,'' his mother said. ''He told me that if you're a Marine you protect your own, you protect their back, you fight. You don't stay home.'' When the Iraq war started in March 2003 Bascom's parents encouraged him to get out of the Marines and avoid the risk of combat. ''He did get out, but it bothered him,'' Debra said. ''He hadn't done what he felt was the right thing. So when he got back in he told me: `Mom, I have to go. I'll be careful, but I have to go because I'm a Marine.''' Leaving his job at a savings and loan , Bascom found himself in Iraq in early September, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. On Oct. 17 he called home to tell his parents that he'd been awarded a Purple Heart for a flesh wound he suffered about two weeks earlier when a bullet grazed his arm. Three days later he was killed, apparently near the city of Ramadi, a stronghold of the insurgency and one of the most dangerous places in Iraq for U.S. troops. Details are still sketchy, but apparently shrapnel from a bomb or grenade penetrated behind his left ear, killing him instantly. In her letter to Bush, Debra Bascom said she supports the president's approach to fighting terrorism. ''I believe my son died for a cause that is essential to the welfare of our world,'' she wrote. She told the president that two days after the family was notified of Douglas's death, an e-mail from him arrived ''telling us how happy he was to be serving'' and how he looked forward to returning home. He also mentioned that he'd written letters still winding their way to Colorado. ''This is a mixed blessing,'' she told Bush. ''How does one endure the loss of a loved one as messages of life and the future continue to arrive in the mail?''

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