“All battalion personnel conducted a memorial service for Kilo Marines 1stLt Scott Fleming and Sgt Joe Wrightsman on 14 January.” — Source: 3/3 Command Chronology for the Period 01 January to 30 June 2011
Hundreds gather to remember lives of Wrightsman, Fleming
Hundreds gathered at the base chapel Jan. 14, to honor the lives and sacrifices of two 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marines who died during 3/3’s recent Afghanistan deployment.
Sgt. Joe L. Wrightsman, 23, of Jonesboro, La., and 1st Lt. Scott J. Fleming, 24, of Marietta, Ga., were both assigned to Kilo Company and died July 18 and Sept. 17, 2010, respectively, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
During the memorial ceremony, Marines close to Wrightsman and Fleming shared stories about the two and how their lives impacted those around them.
For Capt. Shon Belcher, the Kilo Company commander, it was difficult to speak about them both as each man was unique. He recalled Fleming as a caring and enthusiastic leader and remembered Wrightsman’s competitive nature, but in addition to an affinity for smiling, the two men shared leadership traits.
“Their enthusiasm was infectious,” Belcher said. “They loved what they did, and I’m not talking about their skills or professionalism, I’m talking about the way they cared for their men, their compassion for their brothers and commitment to their welfare.
The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jeffrey C. Holt, shared a message of gratitude from Afghanistan. Haji Abdul Manaf, the Nawa District governor, asked Holt to speak on his behalf.
“He wanted me to tell you, ‘Thank you,’” Holt said. “Your son, your husband, did not die in vain. There are good people in Afghanistan who care for their kids just as much and want a better life. They’re not all terrorists, criminals and drug dealers, but honest, hardworking, god-fearing people just like you and me. He said, ‘Scott and Joe’s names will forever be written in the histor y of Nawa.’”
America’s Battalion wasn’t alone in their sacrifice to Nawa, during the deployment nine Afghan policemen and two Afghan National Army soldiers died along with two Marine pilots, Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo and Maj. James M. Weis, from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. James B. Laster, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Division, presented the family of Wrightsman and the family of Fleming with each Marines final medal.
Fleming earned a Purple Heart Medal for his actions in Nawa and Wrightsman earned a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for giving his life in an attempt to save an Afghan policeman drowning in the Helmand River.
The brief ceremony afforded family, friends and fellow service members the opportunity to reflect on the lives lost.
For Kathy Webb, Wrightsman’s mother, her son’s loss was tragic, but as a former soldier herself, she said she is extremely proud of his service.
“He loved the Marine Corps,” she said. “It’s sad that my son passed, but he died doing something he loved.”
Source: Hawaii Marine