AR RAMADI, Iraq – -- Dog tags hang from lonely rifles in a room of solemn silence, standing as monuments to three fallen Marines in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.
A memorial ceremony was held for three Marines of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, at Hurricane Point on Oct. 24.
The three Marines – Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Manoukian, Lance Cpl. Nathan R. Elrod, and Lance Cpl. Clifford R. Collinsworth – were killed during combat operations in the city on Oct. 21.
Members of Weapons Company and other sections of the battalion, numbering more than 75 Marines and sailors, attended the ceremony to honor their brothers-in-arms.
“We gathered to honor the service, commitment and friendship we’ve all come to share with our fallen brothers,” said Lt. Col. William M. Jurney, the battalion’s commanding officer.
The departed were praised for their bravery and professionalism in the face of danger.
Commanders and peers alike remembered the Marines’ poise after experiencing the effects of improvised explosive devices on their patrols.
“For them to go through that and treat it like nothing had ever happened, that’s when I realized I was in the company of heroes,” said Capt. Todd E. Mahar, commander of Weapons Company.
Many came forward to share memories and stories of the fallen for those in attendance.
Friends of Collinsworth shared stories of him heckling the pizza delivery persons who parked in the grass by the barracks and waiting up to all hours of the night to welcome his friends back.
Elrod was remembered for his unique North Carolina accent which got him the nickname “Boomhuaer” and his unmatched precision with his weapon.
Manoukian was known for his love of the guitar, which no one could get away from him, and his willingness to reach out and help his fellow Marine.
All of the grieving Marines and sailors had their own way of honoring the warriors they had once fought beside in Iraq.
“They’ll never be missed, they’ll always be with us,” said Cpl. Muhesian R. Hassen, the Marines’ squad leader. “It’s not goodbye, it’s until we see them again.”
Clifford R. Collinsworth was a mortarman for Weapons Company. Collinsworth was born in Superior Township, Mich., and enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 22, 2004. He is remembered for his outgoing personality, great stories and wild antics.
Nathan R. Elrod was a machine gunner for Weapons Company. Elrod was born in Salisbury, N.C., and enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 8, 2004. He is remembered for his unique accent, precision as a machine gunner and dependability as a friend.
Nicholas J. Manoukian was a radio operator for Weapons Company. Manoukian was born in Detroit, Mich., and enlisted in the Marine Corps on June 21, 2004. He is remembered for his caring nature, uplifting sense of humor and loyalty.