MARJAH, Afghanistan -- Marines and sailors with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, gathered to remember Petty Officer 3rd Class James M. Swink II during a memorial service at Combat Outpost Reilly, Marjah, Afghanistan, Aug. 31.
Swink, a hospital corpsman with Golf Company, 2/9, was killed Aug. 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.
Lt. Col. James Fullwood, commanding officer of 2/9, approached the podium and emphatically stated that no words could ever replace the great man who had passed. Fullwood also gave his personal opinion on how Swink’s positive attitude and constant willingness to seek self improvement improved the lives of those with whom he came in contact.
"Many of us go through life, and even go through the day, speaking and interacting with others in passing," Fullwood said. "Doc Swink, on the other hand, cared for all of those around him."
Fullwood shed further light on the sailor’s character.
"He showed me that honor and faith should be cornerstones in your life," said Fullwood. "Doc Swink did this in total, and as a result, made the world and the people around him better."
Swink always put others before himself, said Fullwood. He always helped others, whether it be giving a Marine camaraderie during a late-night post, or going out of his way to help an injured child with no medical help.
"One time after a firefight on his way back to base, he still had the compassion to treat an injured local child when he very well could have just continued to march, come back and take care of himself," said Fullwood, describing a story he heard. "But again he put others before himself. That was the type of man he was."
During the memorial service, service members who served alongside Swink were given a chance to pay their respects. One after another, fellow comrades wept at the podium, describing the man in intimate details.
Capt. Daniel Nilsson, commanding officer for Golf Company, 2/9, took time to reflect how Swink impacted the company and brought joy to the lives of many.
"He had an infectious smile and personality which would brighten anyone’s day," said Nilsson. "You could walk by him and he was always interested in how you were, be it medically, or more often, personally. He asked because he really wanted to know how you were doing. He was the type of Navy corpsman that any Marine would ask for."
Nilsson’s heartfelt words provided some comfort to the mourners as he expounded upon a conversation he had with Swink’s father the night prior, explaining to them that the family truly appreciates what they are doing here and to not stray from the mission at hand.
"His father told me, ‘You all have a task at hand. While we truly appreciate the honoring and mourning you have for our son we want you to stay focused,’" said Nilsson on behalf of Swink’s father. "‘Do all the right things. Keep your mind on the mission and on the Marines and sailors so you can bring everyone else back home where we will be there to meet you with open arms.’"
"Amazing Grace" resounded over the steady breeze, bringing the memorial service to an end. Close by, a group of Marines stood at attention waiting for the command to perform a 21-gun salute.
The detail raised their rifles and fired rounds into the sky, giving the fallen warrior a final and honorable farewell.
"Petty Officer 3rd Class James M. Swink II," said Nilsson, "you are a part of the legacy of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, United States Marine Corps for eternity; Semper Fidelis."