September 3

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Perez, USMC

The Department of Defense announced on September 4 the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Perez, 19, of Austin, Texas. died Sept 3 due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Perez was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Capt. Alan Rowe, USMC

The Department of Defense announced on September 4 the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Capt. Alan Rowe, 35, of Hagerman, Idaho, died Sept 3 due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Rowe was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
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Times-News TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- It was a dignified and polite Marine who sat down next to Dawn Rowe's mom on an airplane headed for Boise in the days following the Persian Gulf War. The casual conversation blossomed into a friendship that extended long after the flight touched down on the tarmac, and soon encompassed Dawn. "He was a quiet, humble person, and extremely polite," Dawn said. "He was a traditional type of gentleman. My mom was surprised to meet such a ... perfect picture Marine." Alan took Dawn to the Marine Corps Ball on their first date, and she was swept away. "You kept waiting for the other shoe to drop," she said. Dawn moved to Idaho after securing a job in the advertising department of The Times-News, and the couple were married in June 1993. His job took the family, including son Blake and daughter Caitlin, to California in the years that followed. Alan's time on Earth ended abruptly on Friday, however, far from the comforts of home in Yucca Valley, Calif. Capt. Alan Blake Rowe and two other Marines were killed in an explosion in the al Anbar province of Iraq near the Syrian border. The men were members of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. "(Dawn's) gotten hundreds of phone calls and e-mails," said family friend Heidi Kinner. "You get a sense of what kind of a Marine he was and how much people respected him." From the beginning, Dawn accepted and supported her husband's career. "He did a great job balancing a pretty intense Marine Corps career with also being a great husband and father," Dawn said. "He worked extremely hard to balance it." His efforts did not go unnoticed by others around him. "He was such an amazing dad," Kinner said. "They have the nicest children, smart and polite. His little kids both have his adventuring spirit. There are photos at the house of them hiking, fishing. He was a super father and a great husband." Kinner and her husband, Maj. Scott Kinner, befriended the Rowes 10 years ago when the men served together in the Marines. "He was so dedicated to the Marine Corps," Heidi Kinner said. "He was really driven and believed in what he did. He was a Marine's Marine. Tall, blond and fit. Kind of the mental image you think of when you think of the Marine Corps." Because Kinner's husband is a Marine, she understands the risks and worries that can go along with marrying into that lifestyle. "You learn to cope with it, but it's always there," she said. "You just get on with it and make sure everything is done. The military wives, that's their service to the country -- keeping families together, taking care of the children, managing finances and keeping daily lives running." Because of the shared experiences and concerns, when something bad happens, everyone pulls together, she said. "The other wives really feel the impact (from a death)," she said. "You hope the knock on the door isn't the Marines telling you your husband has been killed. But Dawn is an amazing lady. She's very strong and I know that she'll do the best that she can so the children will grow up so they know Alan as a dad and as a Marine." Making a home in Idaho Rowe was born in Woodland, Calif., but his family moved to south-central Idaho when he was very young. He graduated from Gooding High School in 1986 and attended College of Southern Idaho and Boise State University, receiving a degree in political science. He worked as an intern for state Sen. Laird Noh, R-Kimberly, during the early 1990s. "He was interested in natural resources and natural resources management," Noh said. "He worked under my supervision. He was a marvelous human being and extremely motivated." "At the time, Idaho was beginning to awaken to the implications of the Endangered Species Act," Noh said. The Legislature and the public didn't have a thorough understanding of the act, he said, so he tasked Rowe with writing a research paper on the potential listing status of various plants and animals in Idaho and what the implications were because of the provisions of the law. "He just dug into it," Noh said. "He did a very professional job. We circulated it to all the members of the committee and media. I still refer to it periodically." "He read newspapers and was very interested in the world around him," Noh added. "He was very mature. I was kind of hoping he was looking toward a career in natural resource management. But he was also oriented to a career in the military. He was a class act and a great citizen." Later in life, Rowe's sense of duty called him to serve as a volunteer, embracing the Twin Falls' chapter of the Jaycees, a young persons' service organization. "We'd get together and do community service projects," said Henk Heeling of Twin Falls. "He was real proud of what he was doing. He was excited. He was the true, ideal Marine. He didn't say a whole heck of a lot. But he said a lot through deeds and actions. He was smiling, happy, a man of his word. I don't know how you can put it in words. It's just a sad deal." Rowe became an officer in 1994. He served in the Persian Gulf War and completed a 4-month tour of duty in Iraq last year. He was home for 10 months before being deployed again just two weeks ago. "I never worried like some other wives," Dawn said. "In part because of my faith and because he was so well trained. It just wouldn't be an issue." A couple of years ago, she said, she asked her husband where he wanted to be buried. "He thought I was crazy for bringing up the subject," she said. The Rowes used to ski at Soldier Mountain and enjoy the outdoor recreation that Idaho offers. Dawn thought about burying her husband in the new veterans' cemetery in Boise, but the idea just didn't seem to jibe with Alan's preferences. Burying him in Fairfield seemed a better choice. "We could rent a cabin for a week, take the kids and ski as opposed to getting a hotel in Boise," she said. "It's so much more what he was about." In addition to his wife and children, Rowe leaves behind his mother, Marian Blake Rowe of Gooding, his father, James A. Rowe of Twin Falls, and his sister, Diana Rowe Pauls. "He firmly believed the Marine Corps should be over there and helping do their mission," his wife said, "and he was willing to go and to die and to fight. He died doing what he loved, and he was proud of his Marines and his country. He didn't have any regrets about going."

1st Lieutenant Ronald Winchester, USMC

The Department of Defense announced on September 5 the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1st Lieutenant Ronald Winchester, 25, of Rockville Center, N.Y., died Sept 3 due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Winchester was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

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Rockville Centre Herald -- For Ronald Winchester, there were no endless discussions about what he should do with his life. It was always clear to him and everyone who knew him that he was born to be a Marine. He believed in the Corps, and was ready and willing to give his life to defend freedom. Last week, he did. Winchester, 25, a lifelong resident of Rockville Centre, was killed by a bomb in Al Anbar Province in Iraq on Sept. 3, just eight days after starting a second tour there. The grandson of a proud Marine, Winchester grew up hearing stories of war and the brotherhood of men who band together to protect America-s freedoms. His grandfather, Dominick Gatta, served in Guadalcanal during World War II. At age 2 1/2, Ronnie, as his family calls him, wore a Marine uniform to trick-or-treat on Halloween. Other family photos show him wearing fatigues at different ages as he grew up. Winchester told the Herald in a letter to the editor from Iraq last year that he had been waiting to go to the Middle East since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. His father, also Ronald, had worked in the World Trade Center. I felt obligated to New York and all the innocent people, he wrote. He was a platoon leader, in command of as many as 75 Marines, during his first tour, and the bond with his men was undeniable. My Marines are the best-trained young bunch of guys you will ever see, he wrote. They have done and accomplished everything that they have been asked to do. The average age is 20 years old and weight 160 pounds soaking wet. They have trouble spelling but are the toughest bunch you will ever see. Winchester came home last year and spent time with his family in Rockville Centre until he was called up for a second tour in August. He looked at going back as part of his duty, and told his father, I need to go there so they don-t come over here. Winchester-s father said his son never asked his men to do anything he wouldn-t do himself. Although the Winchesters are openly mourning the loss of their only son, they take comfort in the knowledge that he died doing what he wanted to do. He accomplished a lot in 25 years, his father said. He fulfilled his dreams, and he was with his men. Winchester lived in Rockville Centre but attended Oceanside public schools before embarking on a distinguished academic and athletic career at Chaminade High School in Mineola and the U.S. Naval Academy. He died way too young, said Stephen Kriss, who was Winchester-s principal at School No. 5 in Oceanside. Ronnie was the kind of kid who would make any parent proud. It doesn-t surprise me that he chose a military life. Winchester was described as a solid athlete and well-liked by his peers. A message board accepting prayers in his name hit the Chaminade Web site almost instantly as word of his death spread, and old friends posted prayers for him. A true friend and teammate. May God bless you and keep you. Thank you for your supreme sacrifice, read one. Hero ... God bless and thanks for your sacrifice to this country, read another. Generations of free Iraqis will grow in the freedom that you helped cultivate through your service. After graduating from Chaminade, where he played football and lacrosse, Winchester graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 2001. He continued to play football, and was an offensive lineman. Charlie Weatherbie, Winchester-s coach at Navy, recalled a mentally, physically and emotionally tough person. He said you could ask Winchester to go to the wall and he would go through it. While he played for Navy, Winchester-s best friend, Doug Larsen, played for Army. They played head to head in the annual Army-Navy game. It-s like I lost my brother, Larsen said. The two were inseparable, and even spent the last week before Winchester was shipped out together. When his friend was leaving, Larsen remembers cautioning him to be safe and shoot first. The Winchesters, who live on Greystone Road, said they have received a steady stream of support from friends and members of the community since they received the news of their son-s death, delivered by two Marines and a priest, last Friday. Community leaders, including Mayor Eugene Murray, parks and recreation Supervisor Anthony Brunetta, and members of the Rockville Centre Police Department and St. Agnes Cathedral, have all offered their services to the family. So many people called to pay their respects over the weekend that the family decided there wasn-t a funeral home big enough to hold everyone expected to attend their son-s wake. After talking with Monsignor James Kelly of St. Agnes Cathedral, it was decided that the best place to hold the wake, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, will be St. Agnes-s new Parish Center. The times had not been set as the Herald went to press Tuesday morning. A Funeral Mass will be held on Monday at St. Agnes, and interment will follow at Pinelawn Cemetery. Winchester-s father said his son was always joking. He loved to sneak up behind his mother, Marianna, and pick her up or throw her in the family pool. Mrs. Winchester teaches phys. ed. at Oceanside Middle School. Many of the teachers and members of the soccer club she coaches came to her house over the holiday weekend to express their condolences. And when school opened Tuesday, Mrs. Winchester was there, waiting for her students. Mayor Murray said she told him, The kids need me. Winchester was also close to his younger sister Kristine. Their father said they were getting to be best friends, and had even talked about getting an apartment together when Ronnie got back from Iraq. Kristine now wears his Annapolis ring on a chain around her neck.

LCpl. Ryan J. Nass, USMC

Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Nass, 21, of Franklin, Wis., died Sept. 3 from a non-hostile gunshot wound at Camp Blessing, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

LCpl. Nicholas Wilt, USMC

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Wilt, 23, of Tampa, Fla, died Sept 3 due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Wilt was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

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