1st Lt. Robert M. Kelly, U.S. Marine Corps, was the son of White House chief of staff John Kelly.
But as a Marine infantry officer, 1st Lt. Kelly would want us to remember the men who fought and died alongside him. So here are the names and stories of those Marines killed in action during the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan, 2010-2011.
1st Lt. William Donnelly commissioned as a Marine officer in June 2008 and "was the best husband, son, brother, uncle and friend anyone had."
Lance Cpl. Arden Buenagua "loved fast cars and computers, music and dancing."
Lance Cpl. John Sparks was renowned for his determination and liked to watch "WWE wrestling and chow down on pizza, tacos or macaroni and cheese."
Cpl. Justin Cain "enjoyed spending time in Las Vegas. He was not married."
Pfc. Victor Dew was engaged to be married. His fiancee said, "He wanted to be on the front lines where it counts, he always thought it was his duty."
Lance Cpl. Joseph Rodewald's father described him "as a rambunctious kid who grew into a natural leader while playing sports in high school." He was known for his curly hair.
Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge found "a list of impossible tasks from the Internet that he set out to prove could be done, such as eating a spoonful of cinnamon." He stopped wrestling so he could be confident of attending Marine boot camp uninjured.
Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood was born to be a Marine. As his fiancée's mother put it, "Since he was 3 years old, all this kid wanted to be was a Marine. He was already talking about re-enlisting, and this was only his first year."
Lance Cpl.l Irvin Ceniceros, a machine gunner, won a Silver Star for saving his platoon while under heavy enemy fire. A Marine friend described how "he'd mimic songs or movies to get a laugh, to put you in a better mood."
Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez found his life's purpose in the Marine Corps. His best friend explained, "When I would be down in life, Joey would find a way to make me laugh."
Lance Cpl. James Boelk's family knew that "he was there for each of us. He always gave his siblings attention and had fun with them."
Sgt. Ian Tawney was "a devoted husband, a loyal friend and an avid outdoorsman." According to his wife, "he loved to laugh."
Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm "was devoted to God and his country. His desire was that others would know his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson once sled down a hill on his dad's surfboard. He always had his dad's back.
Lance Cpl. Randy Braggs was "a big, sweet, easygoing, lovable guy" who cared deeply about his friends.
Lance Cpl. James Stack was "a national champion air pistol shooter in the 2008 Junior Olympics and a member of the Arlington International Airgun Club." He was "named Most Valuable Player on [his] school's track team."
Sgt. Jason Peto enjoyed "hunting trips with his father, trips to the gun range with his brothers and simple days spent taking long walks and watching the breakers at the ocean."
Sgt. Matthew Abbate won the Navy Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor), for leading his Marines out of an ambush. A Marine friend describes him as "protective, confident and fearless. And he had that smile that could make everyone happy."
Lance Cpl. Kenneth Corzine was "a good friend who smiled a lot, enjoyed life and hoped to spend more time with his daughter."
Pfc. Colton Rusk excelled in Baseball and had a simple motto: "Don't be afraid to go after your hopes and dreams, but don't be afraid to be willing to pay the price."
Cpl. Derek Wyatt's wife gave birth to his son the day after she learned that Wyatt had been killed. In hospital, her baby wouldn't stop crying, so Wyatt's wife played an audio recording of him reading Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go! "As soon as he heard Derek's voice, he stopped crying."
Lance Cpl. Jose Maldonado's natural leadership skills won him many friends. His football coach noted, "I felt safe with a young man like Jose defending our country."
Cpl. Tevan Nguyen "used to call himself a ninja because he was part Asian and could do karate." Calling home to his girlfriend, Nguyen "never talked to her about the war but always asked how his son was doing."
Sgt. Jason Amores was on his fourth deployment, having previously served two tours in Iraq. "His kids were his life."
Those above account for the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, which has suffered the highest casualty rate of any Marine unit since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Yet, as we consider the lives, sacrifices, family, and friends of these men, we should also pay heed to their example. These Americans swore an oath to defend the nation and died in face of its enemies. Alongside Ernest Kernen, these Marines now stand the eternal watch in heaven.