News: Marines pay tribute to fallen brothers
Story by Cpl. Paul Peterson
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - One by one, the Marines rose as their names were called. They stood rigid in a sea of bowed heads and khaki uniforms, waiting for two of their own.
The servicemembers with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group remained silent as the names of Cpl. Christopher M. Monahan Jr. and Lance Cpl. Dale W. Means echoed over the memorial ceremony here, Feb. 22.
The call went out three times, and three times the room remained in a breathless hush. A volley of rifle fire cracked over the bay outside, ending the silence as a bugle played the slow, mournful melody of “Taps.”
Monahan and Means were killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, November 2012 while supporting tactical logistics operations.
“There is little I can say that will alleviate the pain of those closest to them,” said Lt. Col. Denise M. Mull, the commanding officer of the battalion, as she addressed the fallen Marines’ families and friends. “These two Marines followed their hearts. They knew the dangers they were undertaking. Dale and Chris’ passing is a tragedy.”
They died doing what they loved, and the tragedy of their deaths was also proof of their dedication to a greater calling, said Mull, who later took a moment to place her hands on the memorial set up for the Marines.
A rifle, helmet and pair of boots stood in quiet tribute for both of the men. Monahan and Means’ dog tags hung from their weapons – a testament to the battalion’s loss.
“On that day, we began the rest of our lives with something missing,” said 1st. Lt. Ross Campbell, Monahan’s platoon commander with Transportation Support Company, CLB-2. “I find myself looking over my shoulder often, expecting to find him there; only to realize, our reality remains unchanged. This hole will never be filled.”
Monahan, a native of Toms River, N.J., and Means, a native of Burnsville, Minn., served as motor transportation operators and turret gunners operating near Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
“Dale deserves more than a speech, more than a memorial ceremony,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Schlottmann, Means’ platoon commander with Transportation Support Co. “Dale Means deserves exactly what he gave – everything.
“He never let us down.”
A common virtue emerged as the Marines shared their memories of Monahan and Means. The two Marines remained positive even under harsh circumstances, and they put their fellow Marines in front of their own interests.
“I’ve seen him give his face mask to one of his guys on a dusty convoy,” said Staff Sgt. Gordon Lunna, Monahan’s platoon sergeant. “That’s how he was. If he had it and you needed it, it was yours.”
The battalion returned to Camp Lejeune near the end of January after spending nearly seven months supporting International Security Assistance Force. Hundreds of the unit’s personnel disembarked from buses on the base’s streets, where they were reunited with their families and friends.
The scene was a celebration, but the memory of the missing Marines followed the unit home from its deployment.
“It has affected us personally and intimately in ways we are just beginning to understand,” said Sgt. Adam Virosztko, the platoon sergeant for 4th Platoon, Transportation Support Co. “Everyone being here doesn’t make it ok, and everyone being here doesn’t undo anything that has happened. What it does do is allow us to grieve, remember, laugh and cry together.”
Row after row of Marines and sailors drained into the center aisle and filed to the front of the room. They knelt in groups before the helmets of their fallen peers, reached out their hands, and grasped Monahan and Means’ dog tags one last time.