SANGIN, Afghanistan – Marines of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment paused to honor the lives of three warriors during a memorial ceremony here, Dec. 24, 2010.
Lance Cpl. Arden Buenagua, 19, was killed in action Nov. 24, 2010. Sgt. Jason Peto, 31, was severely wounded Nov. 24, 2010, and later succumbed to his wounds. First Lt. William Donnelly was killed in action Nov. 25, 2010.
The brief ceremony was marked by Bible verses, and personal reflections by the Kilo Company Marines.
“It is difficult to understand the loss of three young Americans here today,” said Lt. Col. Jason Morris, commanding officer of 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. “I take comfort in the fact that they lived with honor, courage and commitment.”
Buenagua, a combat engineer, graduated from Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, Calif. He was serving on his first combat tour.
“As a combat engineer, Lance Corporal Buenagua excelled. He was hard working, detail oriented and fearless,” Morris said. “How many Marines’ lives and limbs had he saved before he was killed? It’s impossible to know, but he put himself on the line everyday.”
Peto, from Vancouver, Wash., served in Iraq in 2007 where he was wounded in an IED blast. He enjoyed fishing and riding motorcycles.
“He was the type of leader that anyone would follow into combat,” said Sgt. Aaron T. Sanford, Squad Leader, Mobile Assault Platoon. “He expected greatness, and trained his men to do so.”
Donnelly, born in Frederick, Md., graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. in 2008.
“Will was the type of man that everyone aspires to be as a friend. Throughout school and after, he would make the time to help his friends and family and anyone in need. I’m sure he took the same approach to his Marines. It was an honor to have known him and his family. I’m thankful for being able to attend his memorial here in Afghanistan and plan to visit him at his final resting place in Arlington,” said 1st Lt. Todd Spencer, logistics officer with Regimental Combat Team 2, and long-time friend of Donnelly.
During the ceremony, role was called three times, only to be answered by silence. “Taps” followed in a final farewell.
“All three have been taken home on their shields, as warriors should be, and are now at rest,” Morris said. “We should remember them as they lived, when we were fortunate enough to walk beside them in life.”