News: Lost hero’s children receive education bonds
Story by Lance Cpl. Martin Egnash
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. – The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation awarded education bonds to Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Dudley’s children, during a ceremony at the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 hangar, Nov. 7.
Dudley, an MV-22B Osprey crew chief with VMM-264, lost his life July 7, 2011, while conducting combat operations in southwestern Afghanistan. He was survived by his wife Mary and their three children.
“I am so grateful for all the support that has been given to me,” said Mary Dudley. “A lot of Marines have really stepped up and helped us through this hard time.”
In addition to Staff Sgt. Dudley’s duties as a Marine, he was captain of the Haws Run Volunteer Fire House in Jacksonville, N.C., before he deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010.
“Staff Sgt. Dudley lost his life fighting for this country,” said 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis. “We will never forget that. Marines never leave anyone behind, and that includes families. That’s what makes us Marines.”
The MC-LEF was created in 1995 by former Marines and law enforcement personnel as an organization dedicated to assisting children of Marines or Federal Law Enforcement personnel who died while serving their country at home or abroad. The MC-LEF mission is to encourage the spiritual, intellectual and physical development of children through education. The foundation has distributed aid valued more than $50 million to eligible children.
MC-LEF Director Mike DiFrancesco, a former H-34 pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264, presented the $30,000 bonds to each of Dudley’s three children.
“I didn’t know Staff Sgt. Dudley, but I feel like I did know him,” said DiFrancesco. We were both crew chiefs for 264. We shared a lot of the same worries and responsibilities. Nothing was going to keep me away from coming back to New River and personally giving these bonds to his children.”