A mother of sons sees them as heroes from their babyhood. We want our boys to grow to be men, to be brave, sincere, faithful, to have the strength of will to overcome fear and win the day. A mother of sons also prays over their cradles that there will be no war when they come of age, that they will never have need to exercise the valor that is in them.
When Ethan went to war, the whole thing became a-political for me. If I had my own opinion before, it vaporized when he told me he'd enlisted. I don't understand how people think they can "support the troops" without supporting the cause they serve, and that includes supporting the fearsome things they have to do and suffer and cause in order to protect the country and way of life that allows people to choose an opinon and freely protest.
I couldn't watch the news without obsessive worry so I had to just not watch it. Ethan said there were websites for the families where photos were posted but when I looked, I couldn't find them back then. I trusted President Bush, and I trusted in God.
I didn't know what to pray while he was there. It was war - so many terrible possibilities existed that I couldn't bear to think of for even long enough to pray about. I found myself praying he and all those with him would come home with mind, spirit and soul intact.
Ethan served two tours in Iraq with the Marines 3rd LAR, Company D, 2nd Platoon, including one extended tour, and he came home safely.
On the second, in 2006, they were wrapping up, only weeks from coming home with no losses, when events caught up with them and Delta Company's hurt started: with two IED attacks, six Marines and their Navy corpsman were killed, and three Marines were critically burned.
I started out to write separate stories, a small tribute of remembrance, of each of Ethan's friends who was killed in action in Iraq:
Sgt. Christian B. Williams
Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus
Cpl. Adam A. Galvez
Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield
Lance Cpl. Jason Hanson
Lance Cpl. Shane P. Harris
Lance Cpl. Randy L. Newman
Seaman Chadwick T. Kenyon
When I read the stories of these men, trying to find as many published accounts with their names as possible to help me know them, it seemed each young man's story dovetailed into the next, they were all so interconnected with each other. The events that affected one affected others.
I've never been in the military. I couldn't imagine Iraq. But in my heart was a houseful of boys and their friends, all now grown into American men.
There in Iraq, they were living out of their vehicles together, roaming the countryside together, dedicated to the same cause, employed within the same mileau: working, playing, eating, sleeping was all shared.
And then I realized that every event and every Marine in the platoon was as significant as the other because they were a true unit. I've been trying for days to know how to say it and the closest I can get is that they all survived every day, day after day, because of each other. Each did their utmost to mitigate danger to the others.
All the roads were always mined, snipers were always hiding within a stone's throw, insurgents always smiling within a group of allies. It could have happened any day - every day, to any of them - to each of them - to all of them.
Every day was heroic, every day some kind of unbelievable valor from one after another prevented disaster. Most of the time it was just part of the routine: one more mine disarmed and forgotten. Sometimes somebody made a joke just as they all realized everyone was ok, and it got turned into funny-after-the-fact stories. They were just doing their job: in a team of heroes everyone comes to work.
While some boys their age spent 2006 making cool protest posters in frat houses at elite universities and cementing their futures as unelected political advisors to the White House, these men were Marines lodging an effective prohibition against totalitarianism, against slavery, against cruel and unusual punishments, against theocracy, against religious persecution, against kidnapping, against abuse of women and children.
Those who gave their lives gave them not once but every single day. Each of them and each of their brothers gave their lives every dusty deadly freezing boiling intense tedious extreme exhausted hour of every single day they spent in the desolation that remains of cursed Babylon before the terrible day when their lives were taken from them.
The Marines whose wounds of body or spirit will forever declare their personal mettle of Honor shouldered the burdens of potential injury every single day before the attacks that cost them dearly, in faithful love for their comrades, their families, and their America. You are not named here, your stories are your own to tell or not as you see fit. But we remember you, and are grateful.
These youthful men who returned home also give the coming years of their far horizons: they are witness and example to the sacrifices American heroes willingly made to bring liberty to lost and pitiable lands suffering under the yoke of dead history and the darkness of brutal tradition.
This is a brief history, in 5 posts, compiled for Memorial Day from official published accounts (original sources linked, and direct quoted material in italics - please alert me immediately if any have been missed), of some of the sacrifices made by the heroes of the Marines 3rd LAR, Company D, 2nd Platoon, during their tour of Iraq from March through September 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Links to the series of all 5 posts:
Part I Introduction
Part II Body Armor Saves Lives
Part III Greater Love Has No Man: 4 killed by Bomb
Part IV The Whole Universe: 3 killed by IED, 1 killed by IED
Part V Appendix: Links to articles about these men & the 2nd Platoon
Marines Ethan Duncan Arguello Midland TX