Enemy forces set off an IED near the entrance to FOB Haqlaniyah, resulting in two Marine fatalities.
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
Release No: 469-06
May 23, 2006
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sgt. David R. Christoff, 25, of Rossford, Ohio
Lance Cpl. William J. Leusink, 21, of Maurice, Iowa
Christoff and Leusink both died May 22, from wounds received while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. They were both assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Source: Department of Defense
Two Kane’ohe Marines Die in Iraq
By William Cole | May 24, 2006
Two Hawai’i Marines were killed Monday while on foot patrol in Iraq, bringing to 11 the number of Marines lost by the 3rd Battalion at a time of renewed violence against Americans.
Lance Cpl. William J. “B. Jay” Leusink, 21, of Maurice, Iowa, was hit by a roadside bomb while patrolling in Haqlaniyah, Iraq, according to a statement from the family.
Sgt. David R. Christoff, 25, of Rossford, Ohio, was killed on his second deployment to Iraq with a Hawai’i-based unit. The popular sergeant fought through the streets of Fallujah in late 2004 and early 2005 in one of the biggest battles of the Iraq War, and re-enlisted with the desire to go back to the country, his father said.
David Christoff Sr. said the roadside bomb that killed his son was bigger than most.
“He was pretty close to the blast,” Christoff said.
The Ohio man said three other Marines also were killed and several were injured.
Details were still trickling back to Kane’ohe Bay yesterday.
“I can only confirm two (from Hawai’i) right now,” base spokesman 2nd Lt. Binford Strickland said. “If there’s a third or fourth one, I don’t have any information in my hands.”
Cpl. J.J. Aguirre, a friend of Christoff and a Hawai’i Marine who lost so many friends in Fallujah in 2004 that “I don’t even want to begin to count,” said the Marine sergeant’s death is still hard to grasp.
“I can remember going to Hooters and eating with his whole squad,” Aguirre, 24, said. “The guys would be like, ‘Man, I’d follow that guy anywhere. If he said lay down here and open a field of fire with no cover, I’d do it.’ ”
Since arriving in Iraq in March, and through April 22, the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment had lost three Marines.
From April 28 through yesterday, at least eight have been killed.
The battalion headquarters is at Haditha Dam northwest of Baghdad, but its 900 Marines and companies are spread throughout the “Triad” of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana near the Euphrates River and down to the Baghdadi-Jubbah-Dulab region.
According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, the 76 U.S. troops killed in Iraq in April is the highest total so far for 2006. At least 53 have been killed this month.
Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commanding general of Multinational Corps-Iraq, said at a May 19 press briefing that the U.S. military is seeing a pattern “that we’ve seen many, many other times in Iraq.”
In this case it accompanied the seating of Parliament.
“We’ve seen a pattern of the insurgents and the terrorists and the foreign fighters taking advantage of a key and critical period in Iraq,” Chiarelli said.
David Christoff Sr. said if there was one word to describe his son, it was “charisma.”
“He just shined. When he arrived in town, everyone was here to greet him,” he said.
His grandmother said David Christoff Jr. left the University of Toledo and enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Marine lost five of his buddies and took some shrapnel from a roadside bomb in Fallujah on Nov. 12, 2004, his father said.
Friends say he received two Navy commendation medals for his actions on the deployment.
SECURING THE PEACE
David Christoff Sr. said “all those (Marines) are heroes to me. It’s just incredible what they’ve done.”
He said his son was disappointed in the way the media has portrayed U.S. troops in Iraq.
“They are not telling the whole story. They are not telling any of the good that is coming out of this,” the elder Christoff said.
Among the Marines’ jobs then and now is to train Iraqi security forces to take over.
Continuing that job was one of the reasons Christoff wanted to go back to Iraq. It was a condition of his re-enlistment that he be assigned to the 3rd Battalion and go to Iraq instead of going to Afghanistan with his former unit, the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, his father said.
He told his father that the area northwest of Baghdad was a lot quieter than Fallujah.
“It just seemed he was letting me believe that his job was much easier than it was before,” Christoff Sr. said.
A BROTHER AND A HERO
A total of 11 Marines with the 3rd Battalion have been killed in Iraq, including three on April 28 that the Defense Department reported as being based out of Camp Pendleton in California.
The 3rd Marine Regiment now lists the Marines, who were likely attached to the 3rd Battalion for its Iraq deployment, on its Web site.
Sgt. Edward G. Davis III, 31, of Antioch, Ill.; Cpl. Brandon M. Hardy, 25, of Cochranville, Pa.; and Sgt. Lea R. Mills, 21, of Brooksville, Fla., died while conducting combat operations in Anbar Province, the Defense Department said.
Aguirre said Christoff was “hyped” to go to Marine Security Guard school after returning from Iraq, and then go wherever that assignment took him.
Sgt. Hector Zelaya, 31, said “it wasn’t a friend I lost; I lost a brother” with Christoff’s death.
“I’ve been through everything with him, from the beginning of boot camp to (school of infantry), from the Philippines and Korea and Thailand to Fallujah. He’s my little brother,” Zelaya said. “He was a true leader, and he had the confidence to stand alone.”
Christoff’s father said his son’s body will be back in Ohio for a service over the Memorial Day weekend, and then he’ll be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Where else do you bury a hero?” asked his father.
Copyright © Honolulu Advertiser 2006
2 Isle Marines Killed in Iraq
By Gregg K. Kakesako
Two Kaneohe Marines died Monday from wounds they received from a roadside bomb while on patrol in Iraq.
The Pentagon yesterday reported that Sgt. David R. Christoff Jr., 25, of Rossford, Ohio, and Lance Cpl. William “B.J.” Leusink, 21, of Maurice, Iowa, were wounded Monday while on patrol in Al Anbar province and died a day later.
They were both members of Kaneohe’s 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, whose nickname is “America’s Battalion.”
With their deaths, the battalion has lost eight Marines since it arrived in Iraq in March.
This is the second combat deployment for the battalion in two years. In November 2004, the Kaneohe Bay unit was sent to Afghanistan for seven months, where it lost two Marines.
Christoff was serving his second combat tour in Iraq, his grandmother, Ann Christoff, told the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio.
Leusink also was on his second combat tour, previously serving in Afghanistan, the Rev. Wayne Sneller of First Reformed Church in Maurice, Iowa, told the Sioux City Journal in Iowa.
“He was what I would call patriotic — believed in his country, believed in what he was doing,” Sneller told the newspaper.
Leusink was on foot patrol in Haqlaniyah, northwest of Baghdad, when he was hit, according to a press release from Memorial Funeral Home in Sioux Center. He was treated on the scene and evacuated to a nearby hospital, where he died.
“He always said, ‘If something happened to me, this is what’s supposed to happen. I’m doing what I’ve been called to do,'” Sneller said. “He was a confident man who loved the Marine Corps, believed in his mission and believed that he would come home.”
Leusink is survived by his wife, Miranda, whom he married in 2004; parents William and Elaine Leusink of Maurice; a brother; and two sisters.
Christoff left the University of Toledo and enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his grandmother told the newspaper.
“He was very smart and got good grades and worked his way up to sergeant very quickly in the Marines,” she said. “He was so sure that that was what he was supposed to be and that was what he was supposed to be doing.
“He thought as long as the Marines were over there fighting we could all sleep good at home.”
He was single and was planning a career in law enforcement, his grandmother said.
Christoff is survived by his father, David Christoff Sr., who told the Toledo Blade in Ohio that the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his son’s life.
The younger Christoff was enrolled in the University of Toledo as a business major when terrorists struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“He was going to pursue some sort of business degree at UT and (after the attacks) the only thing he could do is join the military,” his father told the newspaper. “He does things all the way, and he joined the Marine Corps to get the guys who knocked those buildings down.”
Copyright © Honolulu Star-Bulletin 2006
Heroic achievement while serving as 2d Fire Team Leader, 1st Squad, 2d Platoon, Company K, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, Regimental Combat Team-7, I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, on 22 May 2006, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. While conducting a dismounted security patrol, Lance Corporal Kreitzer’s patrol was attacked by an improvised explosive device as they were entering the Forward Operating Base. Upon detonation of the improvised explosive device, Lance Corporal Kreitzer’s squad leader and radio operator were seriously wounded. Without hesitation, Lance Corporal Kreitzer ran to provide medical aid to the casualties. Lance Corporal Kreitzer immediately and accurately assessed the first casualty, his squad leader, and cleared his airway. His quick reaction kept his squad leader alive long enough to be evacuated to a medical facility. Taking command, Lance Corporal Kreitzer directed his fire team to provide security, while he accounted for his team and gear during this chaotic environment. Lance Corporal Kreitzer’s initiative, perseverance, and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
William Leusink (Posthumous)
Heroic achievement in the superior performance of his duties while serving as Radio Operator, 2d Platoon, Company K, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, Regimental Combat Team-7, I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, from March to May 2006, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Displaying consistently high qualities of leadership and dedication in the execution of his duties, he excelled as a platoon radio operator. Participating in over 60 combat patrols, two company level operations and four detention operations, he displayed an exceptional level of tactical and technical expertise. An infantryman by trade, he maintained a proficiency level in radio and communications knowledge unsurpassed by any of his peers. He assisted in the development of the platoon’s fire team leaders and trained the Iraqi Army soldiers in basic tactics and radio procedures. During a Marine and Iraqi Army dismounted security patrol, Lance Corporal Leusink was mortally wounded by an improvised explosive device as he dutifully manned his radio. Lance Corporal Leusink’s initiative, perseverance, and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.