Marines and sailors with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, gathered to remember a fallen brother aboard Camp Leatherneck, March 7.
Lance Cpl. Caleb L. Erickson, a motor transportation mechanic with Motor Transportation Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 28.
“We’ve come together today to remember Lance Cpl. Caleb Erickson,” said Navy Lt. Doyl E. McMurry, the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines chaplain during the opening prayer for Erickson’s memorial. “He was many things to many people, but to us he was our brother.”
Erickson, 20, of Waseca, Minn., was stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He is remembered by his peers as a Marine who would always volunteer for the jobs that others didn’t want to do but made those jobs fun with his sarcastic humor.
“He always found the positive side of everything,” said 1st Lt. John Matlaga, the logistics officer for Motor Transportation Platoon, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. “His sense of humor and optimism always lifted the hopes and moods of those around him.”
Erickson’s peers who spoke at his memorial all mentioned his work ethic and willingness to help everyone. When Erickson saw others working, he would drop what he was doing to help them out. He was loved by all and showed his love for all with his selfless attitude.
“The day of the convoy, most of the platoon left for a quick chow break after the brief,” said Cpl. Martin McNamara, also with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who then began prepping his truck while others ate. “When the guys came back, there was Erickson, with a heaping to-go tray in his hands. He said, ‘Hey man, I grabbed you some food.’ I told him I hadn’t expected anyone to grab anything for me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re my driver, I gotta make sure you’re taken care of.’ I patted him on the shoulder and said, ‘Erickson, this is why I love you,’ not knowing it would be my last time.”
Everyone who knew Erickson knew of his love for his Volkswagen GTI and his fellow Marines, but Erickson loved one thing more than all others, his family.
“Everyone knew that about him, how close he was with his family,” said Lance Cpl. Derek Feick, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who commented on Erickson’s ‘trademark smile’ during the memorial. “I think he got the most letters out of anyone in the whole platoon while we were out here. That just shows how much he was loved and if you ever met him, you knew why he was loved.”
Erickson had a strong Minnesota accent that he and his peers loved to make fun of. His fellow Marines knew him as someone who would make himself the butt of the joke to keep everyone smiling and laughing.
“He was a model for how every man should be,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary Dewar, with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, who considers Erickson his best friend and brother. “He always had a smile on his face, and if you didn’t, he’d put one on your face within two seconds of talking to him. He was the greatest man I’ve ever met. I plan on living every day just as he would, and I hope others do too. He made an impact on others’ lives and a huge impact on mine. I know you’re up there, keeping us safe. The memories of you are what keep me going. Semper Fidelis, I love you brother.”