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Marines, friends and family mourn the loss of Gunnery Sgt. Konstantin Klyaz, with 1st Intelligence Battalion, at the 11 Area Chapel at Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 26. Klyaz, who served in the Soviet army prior to his enlistment, joined the Marine Corps in 1996.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young

Marines gather to honor Ukrainian-born Marine

31 Jul 2013 | Cpl. Joshua Young

A memorial service was held aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 26, to honor an intelligence Marine who passed away recently from health complications.

Service members, families and friends attended the memorial held at the Camp Pendleton 11 Area Chapel and paid their respects to the family of Gunnery Sgt. Konstantin Klyaz. He was stationed aboard Camp Pendleton and assigned to 1st Intelligence Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Master Sgt. Joseph Forton, with 1st Intel. Bn., served with Klyaz in 2001 aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard and remained a close friend to him and his family. 

“He’s a father, a son, a man and a Marine,” said Forton. “He was a really warm, open-hearted gentleman.”

Klyaz was born on Nov. 7, 1967 in Odessa, Ukraine. He joined the Soviet army at 18 and immigrated with his family to the U.S. after his service. 

“Being of Ukrainian descent, you tend to think of individuals in a culture that is very serious or uptight, but he was the exact opposite,” Forton said. “He was really quick to laugh or make a joke just to ease the tension. He was very proud of his Russian background.” 

Klyaz joined the Marine Corps in 1996 as a motor transportation mechanic. He transitioned into the intelligence community in 2000. 

“He had years of experience to pass to our Marines and it’s a tremendous loss,” said Gunnery Sgt. Clayburn Perry, a company gunnery sergeant with 1st Intel Bn. “His presence, experience and demeanor are going to be greatly missed around the company daily.”

Klyaz’ personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, third award with Combat Distinguishing Device, Combat Action Ribbon, two Certificates of Commendation, a Meritorious Mast, and a Certificate of Appreciation. 

“We’re doing our final deployment together,” Forton said. “I will accompany Gunnery Sgt. Klyaz to Arlington Cemetery and will guard his body until it’s laid to rest in August.”

“We love him, we miss him, but we know everything happens for a reason,” Perry said. “We’ll never forget him. He’s ingrained in our minds and our hearts.”