Friday, February 8, 2008

I went to High School with Sean (a smallish school, 250 in our graduating class). We weren't close friends but we knew each other and talked in class. He is the first soldier my class has lost and we're proud of him.

From the San Diego Union Tribune...

Pendleton Marine posthumously awarded Silver Star
by: Alex Roth

Marine Cpl. Sean Stokes was almost pathologically reluctant to accept praise, even though his courage on the battlefield saved fellow Marines' lives and was chronicled in a book.

He might have been embarrassed, then, by a ceremony at Camp Pendleton Wednesday awarding him the third-highest award for combat valor.
But Stokes wasn't there to receive his Silver Star, awarded for his actions during the battle of Fallujah in 2004. The Northern California native was killed last summer during his third tour of duty in Iraq, two weeks after learning he would receive the medal.

Stokes, who died at age 23, appears to be the lowest-ranking Marine since the Vietnam War to receive such a military honor, according to Camp Pendleton officials. He was a private when he helped save the lives of several Marines during the November 2004 battle.

His Silver Star citation credits him with “extraordinary heroism in the face of extreme danger.” He dodged automatic gunfire to kill several insurgents and rushed to the aid of several platoon mates, even though he'd been severely wounded by a hand grenade, according to the citation.

During Wednesday's ceremony, his family and fellow Marines described Stokes as a modest guy who was uncomfortable in the spotlight. “He was never a man who easily accepted public recognition,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Watson, the commander of the Third Battalion, First Marines.

Virginia-based military historian Patrick O'Donnell was embedded with Stokes' unit during the battle of Fallujah and wrote a book titled “We Were One,” which chronicled the exploits of Stokes and other members of his platoon. “The more that I dug into the story, the more that I knew that Sean needed to be recognized for what he did,” O'Donnell told the crowd. O'Donnell said he was “absolutely devastated” when he learned Stokes had been killed July 30, 2007, after stepping on a roadside bomb.

“It was like an ice pick through the heart,” O'Donnell said.
Stokes, whose fiancee was a Marine staff sergeant, was supposed to leave the Marines after his second tour but extended his commitment so he could deploy with his battalion a third time.

Stokes' father, Gary, a real-estate developer who lives near Sacramento, said his son “felt a calling” to remain in the military. To make sure his parents didn't worry about him, he lied and told them he was going overseas but wasn't headed to the war zone.

“The first time we knew he was in Iraq was when the Marines knocked on Gary's door and told him Sean was gone,” said his aunt, Laura Leupp of Spring Valley.
Stokes joined the Marines in 2002 after graduating from Bear River High School near Sacramento, where he played football and baseball.

Stokes' family said he never really worried about dying, even though he'd had so many close calls. “He'd been through so much,” said his stepmother, Sue Stokes. “He figured he could handle himself.”

1 comment:

Jessica G. said...

Anna - Going to school and knowing a person like Sean is something to be proud of. He died doing something he wanted to be doing and had a family that was proud of him. He died for a cause, fighting not only for our country, but for the lives of innocent people over in Iraq. I am proud to belong to a country that has people like Sean fighting for us.

Two Cent Sparrow.
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