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Robert Franklin Eckfield, Jr.
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Ohio State Flag
 NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1110-05
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2005
Media Contact: Marine Corps Public Affairs - (703) 614-4309 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Corporal Robert F. Eckfield Jr., 23, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Lance Corporal Jared J. Kremm, 24, of Hauppage, New York, died October 27, 2005, from an indirect fire explosion in Saqlawiyah, Iraq. Kremm died at the scene while Eckfield succumbed to his wounds at a nearby medical center. Both were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Media with questions about these Marines can call the 2nd Marine Division Public Affairs Office at 910-451-9033.



28 October 2005:

CLEVELAND, OHIO - An Ohio Marine in his third tour of duty in Iraq died Thursday from injuries sustained in an explosion, the military said Friday.

Before he left September 18, 2005, Lance Corporal Robert F. Eckfield Jr. of Cleveland asked his mother to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery.

"He was scared about going back," Virginia Taylor told The Plain Dealer. "He said he knew he would not return. That's when he made me promise to have him buried in Arlington if the worst happened."

Eckfield, 23, and Lance Corporal Jared J. Kremm, 24, of Hauppauge, New York, died from an explosion in Saqlawiyah, Iraq, the military said.

"They said he was killed when something, a shell or something, went through the building he was in," Taylor said.

Kremm died at the scene while Eckfield died at a nearby medical center, according to the Defense Department.

Both were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Taylor said her son joined the Marines after graduating from high school.

"Right from the start, he wanted to do his duty," his mother said. "He went right into boot camp after graduation. I understood it. My father was a Marine, but he died in 2000. They talked about the military service."



30 October 2005:

An Ohio Marine in his third tour of duty in Iraq died Thursday from injuries sustained in an explosion, the military said Friday.

Before he left September 18, 2005, Lance Corporal Robert F. Eckfield Jr. of Cleveland asked his mother to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery.

RF Eckfield Jr. PHOTO

"He was scared about going back," Virginia Taylor told The Plain Dealer. "He said he knew he would not return. That's when he made me promise to have him buried in Arlington if the worst happened."

The government said that will happen.

Eckfield, 23, and Lance Corporal Jared J. Kremm, 24, of Hauppauge, New York, died from an explosion in Saqlawiyah, Iraq, the military said.

"They said he was killed when something, a shell or something, went through the building he was in," Taylor said.

Kremm died at the scene while Eckfield died at a nearby medical center, according to the Defense Department.

Both were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Taylor said her son joined the Marines after graduating from high school.

"Right from the start, he wanted to do his duty," his mother said. "He went right into boot camp after graduation. I understood it. My father was a Marine, but he died in 2000. They talked about the military service."

Eckfield also becomes the 100th military member from Ohio killed in Iraq.



3 November 2005:

Services have been set for a local fallen Marine. 

The body of Corporal Robert Eckfield Jr. was flown back to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The 23-year-old was on his third tour of duty in Iraq when he died in an explosion last week.

Calling hours for Eckfield are 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Busch Funeral Home.

His funeral will be held Saturday at the St. Luke Lutheran Church.

He will be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.


6 November 2005:
Family, friends remember Cleveland Marine killed in Iraq

An Ohio Marine told his girlfriend during his third tour of duty in Iraq that it was likely he would come home early. He had a premonition that he would die, Beth Dunkle said.

Two weeks after their conversation, on October 27, 2005, Lance Corporal Robert Eckfield Jr. died from an explosion in Saqlawiyah, Iraq. Dunkle and nearly 100 others gathered Saturday to mourn him.

Lance Corporal Jared J. Kremm, 24, of Hauppauge, New York, also was killed by the explosion, the military said. Kremm died at the scene while Eckfield died at a nearby medical center.

Both were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Dunkle and Eckfield spent time together near the base in North Carolina before he left, she said. Eckfield filled a motel room with rose petals, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Norm Taylor, Eckfield's stepfather, said he dropped out of high school but needed a diploma to join the Marines. So he enrolled at Cleveland Christian Academy and finished in eight months.

About 60 family members plan to make the trip to Arlington National Cemetery where Eckfield will be buried Tuesday.

"If there's any way that I'd want someone to remember him, it's his honor, the way he honored the military every time he put on that uniform," Eckfield's cousin, Richard Samkas, said after the service.


Duty-Proud Marine Buried at Arlington
For Corporal Killed in Iraq, Service a Family Tradition
By Lila de Tantillo
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Lance Corporal Robert F. Eckfield Jr. wanted to serve in the Marines because of family tradition and his sense of duty and patriotism, relatives said.

Eckfield, 23, of Cleveland, died October 27, 2005, after an explosion in Saqlawiyah, Iraq. Military officials told his family that he was inside a building when it was attacked, perhaps by mortar fire, and that he died of his wounds at a medical center.

RF Eckfield Funeral Service PHOTO
An honor guard carries the coffin of Lance Corporal Robert F. Eckfield Jr. past relatives and friends, i
ncluding mother Virginia Taylor, center, during ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

"When we get the call to go, we don't have any choice in the matter," said Bill Ballestero, Eckfield's uncle, who served in the Marines at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Eckfield's late grandfather fought as a Marine in World War II and Korea, and a cousin is a Marine.

Eckfield's family and friends gathered yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery to remember the young man they knew as "Bobby." Many drove from Ohio to pay their respects.

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Barry L. Baker, from the barracks at Eighth and I streets NW in the District, presented the flag honoring the Marine to Eckfield's mother, Virginia Taylor.

He also is survived by his father, Robert Eckfield; stepfather Norman Taylor; and younger siblings Nathan Eckfield, Rachel Taylor and Norman Taylor Jr.

Eckfield was born in Medina, Ohio, and grew up mostly in Cleveland. He was on the small side before he had a growth spurt as a teenager that put him well over 6 feet, his uncle said.

"It was like you had put him on a springboard and stretched him out," Ballestero said. "One day, he woke up and he had shot up."

Eckfield attended Cleveland's John Marshall High School, where he had above-average test scores and excellent behavior, said Gene Zuckerman, a vice principal. He said faculty members -- proud of Eckfield's accomplishments as a Marine and delighted to see the polite man during a recent leave -- were devastated by the loss.

Eckfield dropped out of Marshall his senior year. Ballestero said that Eckfield later realized that his lack of a diploma would keep him from joining the Marines. So Eckfield attended night school while working at a fast-food restaurant and doing such odd jobs as mowing lawns. He completed his general equivalency diploma at Cleveland Christian Academy.

He soon was on his way to Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. The family drove down to celebrate his graduation.

Although Eckfield completed two tours of duty in the Middle East, he expressed concern about returning while home on leave in September. He told his mother that if he was killed in Iraq, he wanted to be buried at Arlington.

Steve Dever, a longtime friend of the Taylors', said the family never questioned Eckfield's sense of responsibility to serve in Iraq.

Dever said that when Eckfield's body arrived Thursday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, activity in the facility came to a standstill. Baggage handlers halted their duties and passengers watched from the windows as a Marine honor guard brought the coffin from the airplane to the police-escorted motorcade.

"I'm glad to see he's getting a hero's funeral," Dever said.

Eckfield is the 190th person killed in the war in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.

RF Eckfield Valentine's Day 2006 PHOTO    RFEckfield Jr Valentine's Day 2006 PHOTO
Photos & Valentine's Day Remembrance By Holly February 2006

ECKFIELD, ROBERT FRANKLIN JR
CPL   US MARINE CORPS
DATE OF BIRTH: 02/27/1982
DATE OF DEATH: 10/27/2005
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 8149
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Posted: 29 October 2005  Updated: 30 October 2005  Updated: 5 November 2005 Updated: 6 November 2005 Updated: 9 November 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 14 May 2008
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RF Eckfield, Jr Gravesite PHOTO May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008