Justin T. Walsh
Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1029-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant Justin T. Walsh, 24, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, died October 11, 2006, at National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland, from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on October 5, 2006. He was assigned to 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For further information related to this release
the media can contact the 2nd Marine Logistics Group public affairs office
at (910) 451-7200
Justin Walsh, a 2001 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School, has died of injuries suffered in Iraq while defusing a roadside bomb.
The 24-year-old, red-haired Marine, serving his third tour in Iraq, was wounded October 4, 2006, and died Wednesday at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, his father, Jim Walsh, said.
Sergeant Walsh was an explosive ordnance disposal technician who defused roadside bombs and mines, his father said.
He was wounded when an improvised explosive device exploded while he was defusing another roadside bomb.
He was treated in Iraq and Germany before being transferred to Maryland, where he died about 3 a.m. Wednesday, said his father, who lives in Mantua in Portage County.
He is also the son of Terri Walsh of North Benton and has a brother, James Walsh II, and sister, Heather Marie Walsh.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart said the city received confirmation of the Marine's death Thursday and lowered flags at City Hall to half-staff.
Cuyahoga Falls High School posted a memorial to Walsh on its Web site. In high school, Walsh played football and wrestled. He belonged to the Student Council, Latin Club, National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Proud to serve
Walsh's father said his son was proud to be a Marine.
"He loved his country'' and loved working with explosive ordnance, his father said.
The father, a Vietnam era Army veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne, praised the medical team that worked with his son.
"The medical staff did a wonderful job,'' he said. "At least he died in this country.''
Walsh was with the 2nd Marine Division and was involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
His brother, James, 26, of Stow, said his brother, in working with an explosive ordnance disposal unit, "felt if he could save some Marines' lives by doing it, he would do it.''
He said Justin "took his job very seriously, but as far as life went, he enjoyed life. He lived in the moment. He never knew how long he would be here because of the occupation he had.''
He also said his brother "touched so many people's lives'' in his 24 years.
Falls High School Principal Nick Valentine said Walsh's death hits home "because we send so many kids off to the armed services now, and all of us realize the odds of this happening are getting greater not lesser.''
Walsh's death, he said, "makes you reflect and understand a little bit better that the impact of the war is on all of us.''
A hustling player
Greg Roth, a social studies teacher at Falls High who was Walsh's Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher, said Justin had talked about going into the Marines from the time he was a freshman.
He said Walsh had a great sense of humor but a serious side as well.
"He seemed to know what was important and what wasn't,'' Roth said. ``You're talking about a fantastic young man -- and I would have told you that two months ago, as well.''
Don Ross, now an assistant superintendent in Stow, was Walsh's head football coach for four years at Falls High. He called Walsh "extremely hard-working.''
He said Walsh, an offensive and defensive lineman, "wasn't your biggest lineman'' but he made up for the lack of size, ``with hustle. He always had a tremendous attitude and always had a smile on his face. He was a great kid.''
Ross said as a football coach, "you don't remember all your players, but he was one of those players that you always remember.''
Brian Yelling, 40, a medical equipment technician from Cuyahoga Falls, had known Walsh for only a year, but said he "had every opportunity to do other things in his life, and he chose to do this. There aren't many kids who want to be a bomb specialist, especially with the Marines.''
Even as he and his family are preparing for the funeral of his son, Jim Walsh said Americans should not just think of those who have died in the war but remember that thousands are being wounded as well.
"A lot of them don't have arms or legs,'' he said. "We shouldn't forget those who have been wounded.''
And, he said, Americans must remember that a war is still under way.
"This is a war,'' he said. "People die in war.''
He said the family is making plans for calling
hours and a funeral next week at Shoemaker funeral home on Front Street
in Cuyahoga Falls, followed by burial later at Arlington National Cemetery.
Courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal: 21 October 2006
CUYAHOGA FALLS, OHIO - As they stood in front of First United Methodist Church, three women held a sign that showed their love and respect for one of their former students.
"Price School Remembers You, Justin,'' said the sign held Thursday morning by Roseann Kostoff, Juli Mains and Leanne Stofsick.
"He played saxophone and he had the most beautiful voice,'' said Stofsick, a music teacher at Price School who had Justin as a student for six years.
His singing, she recalled, was "just like an angel.''
Then, the funeral procession and hearse carrying Marine Sergeant Justin Walsh's body reached the church and his flag-draped casket was carried into the building by fellow Marines in dress blues.
Walsh, a 24-year-old explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was wounded October 5, 2006, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was disarming one roadside bomb when a second exploded nearby.
He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq. He died October 11, 2006, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Walsh took part in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 and served his second tour from mid-July 2004 until February 2005.
His commander on the second tour, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Durkin, praised Walsh in an e-mail for his abilities, maturity and interest in the Iraqi soldiers.
Durkin said Walsh was "a great kid with a fantastic sense of humor. I can't think of a single time that I interacted with him that I didn't laugh.''
The funeral procession left Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home on Front Street at 9:30 a.m., passing through the city in front of Walsh's alma matter, Cuyahoga Falls High School, and on to the church.
Crowds line streets
Several thousand, including youngsters, stood along the streets to pay their respects.
The entire high school student body lined Fourth Street as the procession passed.
"It's a very emotional thing,'' ninth-grader Jenell Ware said as he waited.
"I am grateful to have the opportunity to show
my appreciation and respect for a person like Justin Walsh.''
"I am so proud of our students -- we had all 1,750 students come out with flags to honor Justin,'' Principal Nick Valentine said.
Walsh, a red-headed 2001 graduate, wrestled and played football at the school.
And 82 members of the Falls football team were together there Thursday to view the procession.
"He truly was a very, very special person,'' said assistant football coach Mike Miller, who played football with Walsh.
Before the service, dozens of members of the Leathernecks, Patriot Guard and Rolling Thunder, all military support groups, held flags and stood in silence in a show of respect.
During the service, Mayor Don Robart, a Marine veteran, called Walsh "one of the finest young men to ever live in our community.''
Robart said Walsh was "the best and brightest this city, this state, this country, has to offer. He was a good student, good athlete, a good son, good brother, good citizen, good Marine.''
Robart said Walsh "was the Marine that allowed each of us to go home at night and crawl under that warm blanket of freedom that he provided.''
Childhood friend Luke Moneypenny, 24, who met Walsh in kindergarten, spoke of how his friend was always there for him while he was growing up.
"In middle school, Justin was there to back me up during the best and worst of times,'' said Moneypenny, who served in the Ohio Army National Guard and is now a senior at Bowling Green State University.
"In seventh grade, he offered the best advice I've ever heard in regard to women: `Run and hide, Moneypenny,' '' he said.
Moneypenny, a trumpet player, said he and Walsh often joked with each other over football and marching band.
"He would call me a ground-pounder,'' Moneypenny said. ``And would say `When are you gonna come and play football?' And I would reply, `Probably about the time you join the marching band, jarhead!' ''
Marine Staff Sergeant Thomas Kirk, a Marine friend from New York, spoke of the work that Walsh did in Iraq, disarming the kind of roadside bombs that have claimed so many lives since the war began.
"There are many thousands of Marines, sailors and soldiers who are walking around because of the work Justin did,'' Kirk said during his emotional eulogy.
"Today is the last day I will be sad. From now on, I will only be happy to have known him'' and for the ``impact he had on my life.''
At the close of the service, the Rev. Marvin Brown, pastor of First United Methodist, intoned: "Justin has given his life for his friends. Rest well, dear friend.''
Outside, hundreds stood in silence as the casket was taken from the church.
Javier Kennedy, 27, of Fairlawn, who served in the Marines during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, said he attended not only because his mother works with a member of Walsh's family but also because of the brotherhood of the Marines.
"We stick together,'' he said.
Even though he had never met Walsh, he said, "the Marines are the biggest brotherhood. Any tragedy pulls us that much closer. I know he would do the same for anyone else.''
Walsh's family asked that memorials be made to Marine Toys for Tots, in care of Weapons Company, 3/25, 800 Dan St., Akron, Ohio 44310.
Walsh is survived by his father, James I., of Mantua; mother, Terri Walsh-Silvey, of North Benton; stepfather Thomas Silvey, of Stow; brother, James Walsh II and sister Heather Marie Walsh, of Stow; and girlfriend, Dawn Garey.
Walsh will be buried at 11 a.m. Tuesday at
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
25 October 2006:
A few weeks before he left for his third deployment to Iraq, Marine Sergeant Justin Walsh spoke to his brother of his last wishes, in the event he didn't come home from the war.
The 24-year-old Marine reminded his brother that if anything should happen to him, he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
"He said he wanted to be buried there with his fallen brothers,'' James Walsh II said.
The Cuyahoga Falls resident's wishes were honored Tuesday as he was laid to rest at the Cemetery.
He was the 266th person killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.
Nearly all of those killed in Iraq, including Sergeant Walsh, are buried in the same section.
The final resting spot for Sergeant Walsh, a redhead who played football and wrestled in high school and had wanted to be a Marine since he was a boy, is a serene place known as Section 60 in the vast cemetery.
As far as the eye can see from his grave site, there are row upon row of white gravestones.
Above the sea of markers Tuesday morning, a blue sky was accented with fluffy grey clouds as a chilly October wind blew through the many trees nearby, most still holding onto their green leaves.
Sergeant Walsh, a 2001 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School, died October 11, 2006, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, after being wounded October 5, 2006.
Sergeant Walsh joined the Marines the summer after high school graduation and graduated from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, three days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
He was an explosive ordnance disposal technician who was defusing a roadside bomb when a second bomb went off, critically injuring him.
He was assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
A funeral service for Sergeant Walsh, where 1,750 students from his alma mater lined the street in front of the school for the funeral procession, was held last week.
James Walsh II said his brother had talked about wanting to be buried at Arlington since he joined the Marines in 2001.
"It was very important to him,'' he said.
A few of his friends who had been killed during his first two tours in Iraq had already been buried there, his brother said.
On the third tour, because Justin Walsh was working with bombs and mines, his brother said, ``he had a different feeling this time.''
Sergeant Walsh was to have returned from his third deployment in March 2007.
The 612-acre Arlington cemetery was designated as a military cemetery in 1864, when it was 200 acres. It is where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located and where President John F. Kennedy and more than 300,000 others are buried.
There are an average of 28 funerals per day at the cemetery.
Sergeant Walsh's military burial was somber and brief -- 17 minutes from start to finish.
At 11 a.m., as 11 church bells were rung in the distance, a Marine honor guard carried Sergeant Walsh's flag-draped casket from a hearse to the grave site.
Following comments from Chaplain Ron Nordan, a three-round volley from seven Marines and the playing of taps by a Marine bugler, Marine Master Sergeants Allen Benjamin and Barry Baker presented Sergeant Walsh's mother, Terri Walsh-Silvey of North Benton and father, Jim Walsh of Mantua, with American flags.
The family has requested that memorials be made to Marine Toys for Tots, Weapons Company, 3/25, 800 Dan St., Akron, Ohio, 44310.
Airman, Marine Mourned at Arlington
Admirers Recall Their Commitment
By Leef Smith
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Airman First Class LeeBernard Chavis and Marine Sergeant Justin Walsh weren't newcomers to Iraq. Both were serving repeat tours of duty when they were struck down this month in separate incidents.
Yesterday, the young men were interred during ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.
Chavis, 21, whose family moved from the District to Hampton, Virginia, when he was 6, joined the Air Force two years ago. He was on his second tour in Iraq when he was shot and killed by a sniper October 14, 2006, while on duty as a turret gunner in Baghdad. Chavis was assigned to the 824th Security Forces Squadron, based at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. He was his unit's first combat casualty in Iraq.
Family members said Chavis expected to return home in January before being deployed elsewhere. His brother, Michael Chavis, said he planned to become a police officer. Members of his squadron said he talked about perhaps joining the FBI, CIA or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Chavis's unit was attached to the 372nd Military Police Battalion, which trains Iraqi police officers in western Baghdad. On trips through the city streets, he was lead gunner, manning a .50-caliber machine gun. He was responsible for clearing a path for the rest of his team.
Yesterday, dozens of men and women from the Air Force gathered with Chavis's family and friends at Arlington, where blustery winds blew leaves across the field of headstones.
"I always knew Lee was a take-charge kind of person," said Kevin Davis, assistant principal at Phoebus High School in Hampton, which Chavis graduated from in 2003.
"He was assertive in what he believed in," Davis said. "He always stuck to his guns. At his funeral service in Hampton [on Monday], people were saying Lee was a hero and a warrior. I could see those traits in him. He was a person who truly gave his life for his country, who gave it for what he believed in."
Walsh's family and friends traveled from his home town of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to attend his memorial.
Walsh, 24, a 2001 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School, was a gifted athlete -- a varsity wrestler and football player who belonged to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes -- and an accomplished student who was a member of the National Honor Society.
Teachers said he could have taken his choice of colleges. Instead, he chose to join the Marines, becoming an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was serving his third tour of Iraq when he was killed.
Walsh was trying to defuse one roadside bomb in Anbar province October 5, 2006, when he was wounded by another. He died about a week later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.
"He could have gone to any school he wanted," said Greg Roth, an Advanced Placement history teacher who knew Walsh from his classes and had advised him on the school's Student Council. He said Walsh naturally took on leadership roles. The Marines, he said, was a lifelong aspiration for Walsh.
"From the time I met this kid as a freshman, that's what he talked about," Roth said. "He always talked positively about serving his country. He took on big responsibilities and was very duty-oriented."
Last week, thousands of people lined the streets of Cuyahoga Falls, about 40 miles south of Cleveland, as Walsh's funeral procession drove past.
Marine Staff Sergeant Thomas Kirk, a friend from New York, spoke during Walsh's home town memorial service and talked about the work that Walsh did in Iraq disarming bombs.
"There are many thousands of Marines, sailors and soldiers who are walking around because of the work Justin did,'' Kirk said, as reported in the Akron Beacon Journal. "Today is the last day I will be sad. From now on, I will only be happy to have known him" and for the "impact he had on my life."
Posted: 13 October 2006 Updated: 21 October 2006 Updated: 25 October 2006 Updated: 27 October 2006
Photo Courtesy of Holly, December 2006
Photo Courtesy of Holly, October 2006