Justin James Wilson
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 228-10
DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Lance Cpl. Justin J. Wilson, 24, of Palm City, Florida, died March 22, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For additional background information on this
Marine, news media representatives may contact the 2nd Marine Division
public affairs office at 910-450-6575.
Marine Lance Corporal Justin J. Wilson, 24, of Palm City, Florida
Lance Corporal Wilson was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; died March 22, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Marine Lance Corporal Justin Wilson of Palm City was scheduled to come home from Afghanistan in less than two months. Instead, Wednesday morning his parents were on a plane to Delaware to meet his body. Wilson, 24, was killed Monday in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.
Wilson always had to be first, cousin Donna Forte said. “He was the first in the family to get married. The first to be a Marine. He had to be the best,” Forte said.
The last time Lance Wilson spoke to his son was March 17 — Justin’s 24th birthday. The phone connection was crackling as Justin spoke from somewhere in the Helmand province, Lance Wilson said, shortly before boarding a plane Wednesday morning.
“He was a little afraid. I could hear it in his voice,” the 53-year-old Wilson said. “He didn’t want to talk about what was going on there. He wanted to talk about his wife, the family. He wanted to know what was going at home.”
Wilson joined the Marine Corps in January 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan 10 months later. Promoted to lance corporal earlier this month, Wilson was a motor vehicle operator assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan.
Justin’s assignment was driving a 7-ton armored truck with a machine gun on top. But recently, Justin had been doing foot patrol. He was killed by an improvised explosive device, said his father. “I was so proud of him. He had commitment, honor, respect,” Lance said.
Standing across from the Wilson home Wednesday, Dale Davant, a 78-year-old Korean war veteran, said he encouraged Wilson to join the Marines while delivering equipment for an ice skating show to Tampa.
“By the time we got back from Tampa he made up his mind that’s what he was going to do, and I encouraged him to do that,” said Davant, who served in the Marines. “He was considering joining before that trip, but I think that trip kind of sealed it.”
Davant said Wilson changed significantly when he completed boot camp. “He had a whole different attitude,” Davant said. “He was a good Marine.” Davant said he talked to Wilson’s family on Tuesday and said they’re in shock.
“If we lose anybody it’s sad, but then I’m having trouble with I encouraged him to join, so I know I’m not supposed to feel that way, but I do,” Davant said.
Justin and Hannah McVeigh were married by a justice of the peace in North Carolina on October 30, 2009. They planned a big family wedding in Palm City after he returned from Afghanistan. Justin was a talented artist, making graffiti-style artwork, Forte said.
“He met Hannah, the girl of his dreams. After he and Hannah married, he was deployed the next day,” Forte said. “He was a tough guy on the outside. But inside, he was a softy.”
Handing out candy to children in Afghanistan was one part of the deployment his son enjoyed, Lance said. The Marines had recently helped rebuild a school in Justin’s area.
“Justin believed in what he was doing. He told me him and other Marines would use candy from their packages from home and give to the children,” the father said.
After graduating high school, Justin tried college. When that didn’t work, he decided to join the Marines, Lance said. “He had to be the best. But I told him it was not a good time. I told him if he signed up, he was going to go over there and fight,” Lance said.
Justin’s body will be returned to Palm City for a funeral. He will be cremated. Half the ashes will go to Hannah, the other half to his parents and brother and sister, Lance said.
At the Wilson’s home Wednesday, purple and yellow ribbons were affixed to two palm trees in the front yard. Another purple ribbon adorned the mail box. Purple ribbons also had been tied to trees and mailboxes of neighboring homes. A Marine Corps hat sat in the back of a silver BMW parked in the home’s brick driveway.
Wilson’s awards include the Afghanistan Campaign
Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service
Medal and the Purple Heart.
Wilson, 24, a son of Lance and Frances “Fran” Wilson of Palm City, was killed March 22, 2010, in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.
In his homily, the Rev. Martin Mulqueen said Wilson “inspired us all with his courage to fight for our freedom. His parents can be proud that he died a noble and worthy death. ... Thank God for people like Justin and all the men and women in the service who remind us to live for something worthwhile and to die for a noble cause.”
Noting the turnout at the church, the hundreds who greeted Wilson’s casket when it arrived Sunday at Stuart’s Witham Field and more who lined the route from the airport to Forest Hills Funeral Home in Palm City, Mulqueen added, “Although he died thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, the Treasure Coast community has been very close to Justin this past week. ... He’s put a human face on the war in Afghanistan.”
In his eulogy, Ed Forte, Wilson’s uncle, spoke of a Justin remembered by family members for “duct taping one cousin to the dryer or putting his brother Chris in a washing machine.” Wilson was the kid who wanted to become a professional paintball player.
Speaking of paint, Forte said Wilson also was remembered for “his love of graffiti art, which was displayed on what he thought was his personal gallery, that gallery being the many walls in Commack, Long Island, where he grew up.”
Forte also recalled how, during Hurricane Frances in 2004, Wilson “was sitting in my house waiting for the storm to pass and watching a documentary on the United States Marine Corps. ... He said, ‘That is what I want to be.’ Six years later, he followed his ambition and enlisted, with great pride in what he had done.”
Turning to Wilson’s parents, his wife Hannah, and other family members, Forte added, “You should all be proud of who and what Justin had become, a United States Marine who died in combat for the defense of our liberty and freedom.”
Wilson had been scheduled to come home from Afghanistan in less than two months.
Many of those attending the funeral Mass walked to the church in a procession from the nearby funeral home behind a horse-drawn hearse and led by a Knights of Columbus color guard and Marine pallbearers.
The same procession returned to the Forest Hills Cemetery for an outdoor service in which Wilson was given military honors, including a three-volley salute. Flags that had draped Wilson’s casket were given to his widow and mother, who cried as she embraced it.
Wilson’s body will be cremated; half the ashes will go to his widow, the other half to his parents and brother and sister.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions
be made to Wounded Warriors Project, 7020 AC Skinner Parkway, Suite 100,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
He was a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed out of Camp LeJuene, North Carolina, in the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Justin attended Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Palm City.
He is survived by his wife, Hannah McVeigh of Stuart; parents, Lance and FrancesWilson of Palm City; brother, Christopher Wilson of Palm City; sister, Jamie-Ella Wilson of Palm City; grandmothers, Ella Forte of North Carolina and Lillian Wilson of New York. He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Ed Forte and Tex Wilson.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Wounded Warrior Project, 7020 AC Skinner Pkwy., Ste #100, Jacksonville, Florida 32256.
WILSON, JUSTIN JAMES
Posted: 6 August 2010 Updated: 21 September 2010
Photo By Eileen Horan, September 2010
Photo By Eileen Horan, July 2010