MARJAH, Afghanistan --
Throughout history, the title Marine has carried with it a heritage of honor, courage and commitment. The legacy of past battles, fallen comrades and sacrifices for country and Corps runs deep through the veins of its members.
Cpl. Stephen C. Sockalosky, a machine gunner with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, joined the ranks of the Corps’ fallen heroes, Oct. 6, while conducting combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His brothers in the battalion paid their respects during a memorial ceremony here, Oct. 13.
Lt. Col. James Fullwood, commanding officer of 2/9, approached the stand to reflect on the man his Marines held close to their hearts.
“When he joined the Marines in 2007, the nation had already been at war for seven years,” said Fullwood. “He joined under those difficult circumstances, knowing that combat would be in his future. Without fear, he embraced being a Marine and gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”
One by one, close friends of the fallen warrior stepped up to the podium, honoring a man who was dear to his family, country, and Corps.
Capt. Daniel Nilsson, commanding officer for Golf Company, 2/9, expounded on Sockalosky’s relationships with the other Marines.
“Socks, as most people affectionately called him, was a man that was truly dedicated to his Marines, his mission and his family,” said Nilsson. “He had an unmatched love for the Marines under his charge. This was often seen by the way he looked after them as if they were his own flesh and blood.”
Nilsson’s heartfelt words provided some comfort to the Marines. He recalled a conversation he had with Sockalosky’s grandmother the night prior.
“His grandma told me, ‘You tell those boys to get their heads in the game and keep their minds focused where it needs to be. While you may want to, don’t mourn the death of Coty. Take care of what you need to do over there, and you get everyone back home. And when you get back home, we will be there to meet you where we can tell each other stories about him.’”
As the ceremony drew to an end, the company gunnery sergeant marched in front of the crowd, came to attention and shouted out names of Marines. Replies of, “present,” could be heard over the steady breeze until Sockalosky’s name was repeated several times with no response.
A single trumpet bellowed Taps while Marines and sailors raised their hands to salute their fallen brother.
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 into the sky, giving the fallen warrior a final and honorable farewell.
Sockalosky is survived by his wife, Mrs. Brittney B. Sockalosky, his mother, Carolyn A. Adsit, and his father, William S. Sockalosky. His awards include the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.