AR RAMADI, Iraq -- More than a hundred U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers came to the Hurricane Point Morale Welfare Recreation Center April 17 to remember three Marines and one Sailor who gave the ultimate sacrifice during a combat patrol in Iraq.
Lance Cpl. Kun Y. Kim, 20, of Atlanta, Ga.; Staff Sgt. Eric A. McIntosh, 29, of Allegheny, Pa.; Hospitalman Geovani R. Padilla-Aleman, 20, of Lynwood, Calif.; and Cpl. Scott J, Procopio, 20, of Essex, Ma.
All were members of 3rd Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, a Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based unit currently deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The men lost their lives April 2 when their armored vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb while conducting combat operations in western Ramadi.
A Marine performed “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes, and the fallen servicemen’s platoon recited Psalm 23. A group of Marines shared their final thoughts and memories of the deceased during the memorial service. Each Marine, sailor and soldier present also paid their last respects with a final salute to the individual memorials of each of their fallen comrades.
Four rifles with fixed bayonets were driven into sandbags. Helmets rested on the butt stock of each rifle, and a set of dog tags hung from each pistol grip. Recent photographs of the fallen service members were placed in front of each memorial.
Lt. Col. Stephen M. Neary, commanding officer of the battalion, talked about the Marines and what they left behind.
“Our memories of their lives and sacrifices should serve as a daily reminder of how we should conduct our lives,” said Neary. “All these men are heroes and will be remembered that way.”
Capt. Andrew M. Del Gaudio, commanding officer for K Company, shared his memories of his fallen warriors.
Del Gaudio, a 30-year-old from Bronx, N.Y., remembered having to share a sink with McIntosh due to limited space in the bathroom the morning of April 2.
“McIntosh and I were talking about our wives and families … just the general things Marines talk about. Right before I got done shaving in the same sink as him, I said grab a hold of your lieutenant and come down to the (Command Post) to do the final coordination for the patrol today,” said Del Gaudio. “He looked at me and said, ‘easy, cheesy’… Anybody who knew ‘Mac’ knew that his personality was happy-go-lucky.”
The company commander also mentioned having the pleasure to promote his Marine, Procopio, to the grade of corporal before going on deployment. He talked about Kim’s professionalism as a squad automatic weapon gunner and joked about Padilla’s approach to keeping his Marines healthy.
During the service, other members of the company spoke about the memorialized men and what memories they left behind.
Staff Sgt. Eric A. McIntosh was a man who possessed many leadership traits, the guy who loved to brag about his Marines, and an all-around great role model.
“He loved leading a platoon of Marines and being a Marine platoon sergeant,” said Staff Sgt. Colin R. Crofts, a 32-year-old platoon sergeant with Company K. “He had a great sense of humor, and we had a lot of laughs together.”
Although Crofts knew McIntosh for only six months, he considered him a great friend.
“His loss hits me hard,” said Crofts. “I know [he] was loved by his wife, family, and many friends. We miss you and will always remember you.”
Cpl. Scott J, Procopio was a highly motivated Marine who was meritoriously promoted to private first class, lance corporal, and then corporal. These promotions directly reflected his devotion to the Marines and Sailors around him. He also had the will to accomplish anything and possessed a strong desire to learn new things.
“In a military organization where small unit leadership is the backbone of success, Corporal Procopio flourished,” said Cpl. Justin J. Carlisle, a 21-year-old squad leader. “He always offered a shoulder to lean on and he was very fun to be around… Scott’s humor was our favorite trait.”
Exactly one year prior, on April 2, 2005, during an attack on the Abu Ghraib Prision, Procopio tactically employed his machinegun against an insurgent force. His proficiency and aggressive actions were key in repelling the enemy assault. He received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for his actions.
“Mr. Joe Cool” best describes Lance Cpl. Kun Y. Kim’s personality. He always wore the latest fashion and had expensive tastes. Marines who worked with him described him as “extremely professional” and a person who “loved everything about his job.”
“He always had expensive clothes and shoes and the latest cell phone, and then he would wonder why his gas tank was on ‘E’,” said Lance Cpl. Adam V. Sardinas, who was Kim’s roommate back in Lejeune. “It’s hard to sum up a man as great as Kim. He was an awesome friend and an awesome Marine.”
Hospitalman Geovani R. Padilla-Aleman joined the battalion two weeks before departing to Iraq. He was stationed at Bethesda, Md., where he excelled as a corpsman. He was known to have had “superior knowledge of his craft” and was called a “blessing and valuable asset to Third Platoon.”
“I always came to him when I needed advice on medicine,” said Seamen Robert S. Williams, a 32-year-old corpsman who worked closely with Padilla-Aleman. “And he also never turned away a Marine… even if he was sleeping.”
“The bond between corpsman and Marine is sacred, whether it be officer or enlisted personnel. When a Marine needs help, he calls ‘doc,’ and ‘docs’ are always there to lend a hand,” said Williams during the ceremony.
The service ended with a meditation reading from the battalion’s chaplain, Navy Lt. Eugene Woznaik, and the final roll call by the company first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Patrick J. Dostal.
“I know that one day all of us will be with our brothers again, and I know in my heart that now they are the ultimate overwatch for my company,” said Del Gaudio, fighting back his emotion. “I feel them with me everyday. I know that they’re there, and my comrades will never be forgotten.”