By Cpl. Tyler B. Barstow
1st Marine Logistics Group
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – The lives of two fallen Marines were honored by their fellow service members with pride, dignity and respect during a memorial service, Aug. 16, 2008.
Maintenance Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group had two Marines killed during combat operations in al-Anbar province, Aug. 7, 2008. The mine resistant armor protected vehicle they were in rolled into a canal, trapping both of them inside. The incident is under investigation.
The memorial service for Cpls. Adam T. McKiski and Stewart S. Trejo was attended by their fellow service members who paid respects to their brothers in arms, and commented on their being an outstanding asset to the Corps and their friends.
McKiski, serving his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was working as an artillery repairman. Throughout his time with the company, McKiski, 21, from Cherry Valley, Ill., made a lasting impression amongst his peers.
"Adam always wore a smile on his face and his heart on his sleeve," said Cpl. Marshall L. Pate, a friend of McKiski with Maint. Co. "If someone was ever having a bad day, he would take the time to ensure that individual would be taken care of. I know he's gone but his memory will stay in our hearts forever," said the 21-year-old from Kaufman, Texas.
Both Marines were known for their outgoing personalities and helpful attitudes. Trejo, 25, from Whitefish, Mont., was also an artillery repairman with 2nd Platoon. It was his first deployment but he was always eager to get to work.
"As a Marine, [Trejo] made my job easy. He took it upon himself to learn two other billets so he could lead his Marines better," said Sgt. Mark E. Sale, optics chief, Maint. Co. "If you were lucky enough to get close to him, he would welcome you and treat you like family," said the 27-year-old from Stoystown, Penn.
Their openness with coworkers and their caring attitudes affected all of those around them.
"Their personalities dug a trench in our hearts," said Staff Sgt. Efrain Banuelos, the company gunnery sergeant for Maint. Co. "[Our hearts] are now left with a void filled with their memories," said the 34-year-old from Los Angeles.
Cpl. Justin M. Kronenberg, company clerk with Maint. Co. and Trejo's roommate didn't see him much as Trejo was always volunteering for extra work, taking on duty at the armory and spending his nights there. "I asked him why and he said he would rather do it so no one else would have to. That's the kind of Marine he was," said the 30-year-old from Cameron Park, Calif.
Lt. Glenn W. Orris, battalion chaplain for CLB-1, offered comforting words for the crowd of mourners. Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, sergeant major of the Marine Corps and Brig. Gen. Robert R. Ruark, the commanding general of 1st MLG, were in attendance to honor the two fallen warriors. Their own company commander stressed the pride he felt in having them in his command.
"They chose to serve and chose to answer their nation's call and for that we owe them," said Capt. Pedro B. Gomez, commanding officer for Maint. Co. Gomez thanked their parents for raising them as the individuals they were and sent out condolences to their surviving families.
McKiski is survived by his wife Jamie, and his parents Hal and Mary.
Trejo is survived by his wife Taffie, son Nathaniel and his daughter Roary.
"Anyone that knew them knew what great individuals they were and in them we saw the values we strive to uphold; honor, courage and commitment," Orris said.
These values applied to their lives even during their final day. Their mission was to help give back to the new Iraqi Army which would in turn lead to security back home. And they served with pride during their final hours.
Hordes of supporters attended the ceremony to pay their last respects. The traditional upturned rifle, boots, helmet and identification tags were on display before portraits of the deceased. The procession took time to offer prayers and last words to their lost friends.
The detail to set up the memorial was made up of volunteers who did it with pride for their friends.
"It's one of the many things I can do to pay them for their friendship," said Cpl. Gregory I. Davis, 22, from Logan, Utah and friend of Trejo and McKiski. "I look forward to meeting them again."
With final respects paid, tears shed and feelings expressed, Marines of CLB-1 can feel confident that if they are to look on heaven's scenes, they will know that they will be guarded by two outstanding Marines.