Fallen Marine's letter marks Memorial Day
BY SEBASTIAN ABBOT Associated Press
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
5/29/12 at 6:43 AM
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U.S. Marine Sgt. William Stacey was killed earlier this year by a homemade bomb in southern Afghanistan, a tragedy for which he prepared by writing a letter to his family explaining why he was fighting that was to be read in the event of his death.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, read the 23-year-old's letter during a Memorial Day service Monday in Kabul in memory of all the troops who have died in the country since the war started in 2001.
"Today we remember his life and his words, for they speak resoundingly and timelessly for our fallen brothers and sisters in arms," said Allen, who also leads the NATO coalition in Afghanistan.
Stacey was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed on January 31 in Helmand province. The young Marine from Redding, Calif., told his family that he was motivated to fight in Afghanistan to protect the country's children and provide them the opportunity to go to school and live out their dreams.
"There will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home to come to his," Stacey wrote in his letter. "He will have the gift of freedom which I have enjoyed for so long myself, and if my life brings the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know that it was all worth it."
Stacey deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Allen said that since he took over command in Afghanistan in July 2011, at least 251 American troops, 76 other NATO coalition members and 1,296 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in the country.
Three more members of the NATO coalition were killed Monday, two in a helicopter crash in the east and one in an insurgent attack in the south, the force said.
During Monday's ceremony at NATO coalition headquarters, Allen helped lay a large wreath at the base of a pedestal holding a battlefield cross - the traditional memorial to a fallen soldier, constructed using the troop's boots, rifle, helmet and dog tags. Allen stepped back and crisply saluted as taps played over a speaker.
Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, observes Memorial Day in Kabul by reading a letter written by an American Marine to his family before he died in southern Afghanistan earlier this year. ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS / Associated Press