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Marines Honor Iraqi Freedom Veterans at Evening Parade

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2005 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that the generation that survived the Depression and fought World War II had a "rendezvous with destiny."

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Honored guests at the July 8 Marines' Evening Parade in Washington were, from left, Air Force Staff Sgt. Rudolph M. Funn III; Marine Cpl. Lenard A. Watson; parade host Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs vice chairman; Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Hendrickson; Army Cpl. Andy Choi; and Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Jacobs. Photo by Darrell K. Hudson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The generation fighting the global war on terrorism has a similar destiny, Marine Gen. Peter Pace said, adding that he hopes Americans "appreciate how truly lucky we are to have young men and women to do what these folks have done for us."

"These folks" were representatives of the five armed services who were the focus of the Evening Parade July 8 at the Marine Barracks here. Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted the parade. The guests of honor - a soldier, Marine, sailor, airman and Coast Guardsman - represented all of those fighting against terror.

Four of the five servicemembers had suffered wounds. All of them thought of others before themselves, Pace said.

This was the second year in a row that Pace honored servicemembers at the Evening Parade, which features the Marine Band, the Silent Drill Team, the Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Marine Corps Color Guard and is held every Friday at the Marine Barracks here.

It is a singular honor to "stand on center walk" and receive the salutes of the Marines, a Marine Barracks official said.

The following servicemembers were honored during the event:

Army Cpl. Andy Choi came to the United States from Korea when he was 12. He enlisted in the Army from Philadelphia and became an infantryman. He was serving with the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, in Mosul, Iraq, when a car bomber tried to get to his position on April 12 of this year. Choi fired warning shots and then opened up on the vehicle with a machine gun. He hit the vehicle causing it to blow up before it reached his unit. Shrapnel hit the 23-year-old, and he lost the sight in his left eye and suffered three fractures to his face.

Marine Cpl. Lenard A. Watson was wounded during his second deployment to Iraq. He was a squad leader during the battle for Najaf in 2004. He led his machine-gun squad with expertise during the battle, Pace said. At one spot, he provided covering fire for his squad as they moved. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the corporal, and he suffered extensive facial injuries, a broken jaw and shrapnel wounds to his knee and thigh. The corporal is serving as a platoon sergeant in Camp Pendleton, Calif., as he awaits further surgery.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Hendrickson served as a medic with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, in Anbar province this year. He was part of a convoy that got hit by an improvised explosive device. Despite having wounds that required having his leg amputated, Hendrickson hopped from Marine to Marine providing medical care.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Rudolph M. Funn III served in Mosul, Iraq, as a convoy commander. On Dec. 30, 2004, Funn's truck took heavy fire. The staff sergeant kept his composure and radioed for help. He remained on the radio until it was disabled and he suffered injuries. Despite his wounds, Funn volunteered to stay with mission. He came home to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., at the end of January.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Jacobs represented all the Coast Guard personnel who have deployed to the Persian Gulf region during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She volunteered for assignment to the region and supported six Coast Guard patrol boats and 85 personnel in Bahrain during her year-long deployment that ended in May.

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