April 1 to 5
2003



April 2

Lance Cpl. Brian E. Anderson, USMC

Lance Cpl. Brian E. Anderson, 26, of Durham, N.C., was killed April 2 in a non-hostile accident west of An Nasiriyah, Iraq. Anderson was manning a .50 caliber rifle on top of a 7-ton truck when the vehicle passed under and apparently snagged low hanging power lines. He was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C. The incident is under investigation.

The Virginian Pilot ~~ ...Anderson was electrocuted in an accident just outside town. Thursday night, after Anderson's next of kin had been notified, the Department of Defense released his name. Anderson's fellow Marines from Camp Lejeune remembered him as a kind and generous man who was among the first to throw water to Iraqi children when the company crossed the border not quite two weeks ago. ``I remember the first day he came to us, he was so excited to go,'' said 1st Sgt. Michael Sprague, 36, of White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. ``He was so much fun to be around, that kid.'' He was known for his affection of dominoes -- or ``bones,'' as the men here call the game. Anderson, an administrative clerk, had been assigned to the unit just before its deployment in mid-January. During the company's eight days in Nasiriyah, Anderson often marveled that he, a clerk, was on the front lines of a war. Charlie Company was involved in several firefights in Nasiriyah, but its last days in the southern Iraqi town were relatively subdued. The night before he died, Anderson had said that the recent lull in combat was giving him too much time to think, and that he was becoming homesick. Wednesday morning, as the convoy rumbled out of town following Anderson's call, he took his position manning a .50-caliber machine gun atop one of the convoy's seven-ton trucks. Not far out of Nasiriyah, he grabbed a low-hanging power line to push it over the gun and his head. The wire was live, and Anderson was electrocuted. He lost consciousness immediately and died en route to a medical facility around 7 a.m. local time, or 11 p.m. Tuesday back home.

April 2

Pfc Christian D. Gurtner, USMC

Pfc. Christian D. Gurtner, 19, of Ohio City, Ohio, was killed April 2 by a non-combat weapons discharge in Southern Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. The incident is under investigation.

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Associated Press -- VAN WERT - White-gloved Marines wearing blue dress uniforms and high school friends carrying a bowling pin gathered Wednesday for the funeral of the first reported death of an Ohioan in the war in Iraq. Christian Gurtner, 19, a private first class who joined the Marines in March 2002, died April 2 when his weapon accidentally went off in southern Iraq. He was an infantry scout assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. His funeral is the last of the services for the three Ohio soldiers who have died in the war. Friends say Gurtner loved bowling, the Atlanta Braves and Ohio State football. The bowling pin that his friends brought to the service was signed by his bowling teammates and friends. Burial will be in his hometown of nearby Ohio City, a farming community of about 800 people about 75 miles southwest of Toledo.

April 3

Cpl. Mark A. Evnin, USMC

Cpl. Mark A. Evnin, 21, of Burlington, Vt., was killed in action on April 3 during a firefight in Central Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

April 3

Pfc. Chad E. Bales, USMC

Pfc. Chad E. Bales, 20, of 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton, Calif., was killed on April 3 in a non-hostile vehicle accident, an apparent vehicle collision, during convoy operations east of Ash Shahin, Iraq. Details of the accident remain sketchy, though blowing sand and zero visibility were probably contributing factors. The accident is under investigation.

Bales grew up in Coahoma, a town of 1,000 a few hundred miles west of Dallas. He played football and helped on the family's cotton farm. He loved to fish. As a boy, Bales wanted to be a New York City firefighter. Then, he thought he might be a police officer. He ultimately decided to be a Marine. "He wanted to do something to serve the public," said the boy's stepfather, John Wayne Metcalf said. Growing up, Bales was always ready to lend a hand with farm duties. It was grueling work, from sunup to sundown. And Bales was the last to call it a day, Metcalf said. Bales raised calves and goats, and loved to show them at farm expos. He played for the Coahoma High School football team and graduated in 2001. "Chad was a go-getter," Bales' football coach, Robert Wood, told his hometown newspaper, The Big Spring Herald. "He was the kind of kid who was a great team player. He gave great effort in everything he did and was always willing to play his role."

April 3

Cpl. Erik H. Silva, USMC

The Department of Defense announced April 6 that Cpl. Erik H. Silva, 22, of Chula Vista, Calif., was killed in action in Iraq Thursday, April 3. Silva was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

April 4

Captain Benjamin W. Sammis, USMC

Capt. Benjamin W. Sammis, 29, of Rehobeth, Mass., was killed in action on April 4 when his AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed during combat operations near Ali Aziziyal, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) - 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Camp Pendleton, California.

Sammis, the son of a Marine drill sergeant, grew up in Rehoboth, a town of 10,000 in southeastern Massachusetts. He excelled in sports, racing sailboats and yachts, and playing soccer and tennis. He was an Eagle Scout and performed in school plays. In 1995, after graduating from The Citadel. Sammis joined the Marine Corps. He earned his wings in 1999. Sammis' death was the first Rehoboth war-related casualty since Vietnam. He leaves behind a wife, Stacey.

April 4

Captain Travis A. Ford, USMC

The Department of Defense announced on April 7 that Capt. Travis A. Ford, 30, of Ogallala, Neb., was killed in action on April 4 when his AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed during combat operations near Ali Aziziyal, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) - 267, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Ford had followed his brother, now a Marine reservist and FBI agent, into the military. On April 5, he was returning from a mission near Baghdad when his Super Cobra gunship crashed, killing him and another Marine, said his father-in-law, Bob Tipton. "He died giving his life for the country," Alex Ford said. "That is a tremendous sacrifice, but he did so willingly." Ford, 30, grew up in Ogallala, Neb., and lived in Oceanside, Calif., near Camp Pendleton, with his wife, Deon, and their 1-year-old daughter, Ashley. He was a cheerleader at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and relatives said, he proposed to his wife over a megaphone in Lincoln's Memorial Stadium as other cheerleaders held up placards reading "Will You Marry Me, Deon?"

April 4

Cpl. Bernard G. Gooden, USMC

Cpl. Bernard G. Gooden, 22, of Mt. Vernon, N.Y., who was killed during a firefight in Central Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Gooden grew up in Jamaica and attended York College in Toronto, Canada, where he was a straight-A student, but had to leave because the family couldn't afford the tuition. He joined the Marines in 2001 as a way to finish his education, hoping to pursue corporate law.

April 4

1st Lieutenant Brian M. McPhillips, USMC

1st Lt. Brian M. McPhillips, 25, of Pembroke, Mass., who was killed during a firefight in Central Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"He was able to think quickly on his feet," said Nicholas Argento, who taught McPhillips as a freshman at Boston College High School. "He always had a fiery determination about him. If he got something wrong, he wanted to know how to make it better."

April 4

Sgt. Duane R. Rios, USMC

Sgt. Duane R. Rios, 25, of Hammond, Indiana. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, before being deployed to Iraq on Feb. 4, as a member of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion Bravo Company. A 1996 graduate of Griffith High School, Rios married his sweetheart, Erica, in 1998 in Las Vegas. He joined the Marines a year later. His wife said Rios was right where he wanted to be. "He did his job with pride because it was something that he felt was right."

April 5

1st Sgt. Edward Smith, USMC

1st Sgt. Edward Smith, 38, was in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He died in Doha, Qatar, on April 5 from wounds received in action in central Iraq on the preceding day.

Camp Pendleton ~ Marines, Anaheim police officers and the family of 1st Sgt. Edward C. Smith gathered under a gray sky Thursday to remember the man whose physical stamina and mental toughness inspired thousands of troops who trained under his command. About 300 people packed the Marine Memorial Chapel at Camp Pendleton, where police officers and Marines eulogized the 38-year-old father of three who had planned to retire from the military in January.


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