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Steven Walter Szwydek
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Pennsylvania State Flag
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1080-05
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 22, 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 three Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sergeant Richard T. Pummill, 27, of Cincinnati, Ohio
Lance Corporal Andrew D. Russoli, 21, of Greensboro, North Carolina
Lance Corporal. Steven W. Szwydek, 20, of Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania

All three Marines died October 20, 2005, from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces near Nasser Wa Salaam, Iraq.  They were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd 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.


Fulton Marine died doing what he loved
By KEITH PARADISE 

Steven Szwydek seemed born to be a United States Marine.

SW Szwydek PHOTO

His mother, Nancy Szwydek said looking at pictures of her son throughout his life is like watching an evolution from a young boy with toy guns and camouflage pajamas to a young man with the real articles.

The 20-year-old Lance Corporal from Warfordsburg died doing the only thing he ever wanted to do last week. Szwydek was killed along with two other Marines by a roadside bomb during Thursday combat in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. He is the second Fulton County man to die since combat began.

Szwydek was serving in the Weapons Company Second Battalion, Second Marine Regimental Combat Team Eight, Second Marine Division based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in battle as well as the Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.

Szwydek was remembered as a young man who was fascinated with the military and history. Nancy Szwydek said her son constantly watched the History Channel. Todd Hoffner taught Steven Szwydek in seventh and eighth grade and as a junior and senior at Southern Fulton High School, Warfordsburg, where he graduated in 2003.

Hoffner described him as a walking wealth of information when it came to history of the military.

“Any time someone would ask me a question relating to the military or wars, I’d refer them to Steven. He did have a vast amount of knowledge,” Hoffner said.

As graduation approached, Steven Szwydek was still determined to become a Marine. However, his parents urged him to look at the other branches to see what they had to offer. Nancy Szwydek recalled listening to some of the benefits and enticements that recruiting officers were offering, then going back to the Marines recruiter.

“I asked him what he had to offer and he said, ‘He either wants to be a Marine or he doesn’t,” she said.

He wanted to be a Marine, so much that he attempted to return to Iraq early after his first tour. Szwydek returned to the United States in October last year after seven months in the Gulf. In January 2005 he volunteered to go back early, but eventually had to wait for a second deployment in July.

Szwydek's sister, Stephanie Bard, said her brother, who was single, was looking to take the place of a soldier who had a family back home.

“He didn’t become a Marine to just sit around a base,” Nancy Szwydek said.

Szwydek was proficient not only with history but also with a firearm. He was qualified as an expert when he was tested for sharpshooting and, according to his father, hit a bull’s-eye nine out of 10 times from 500 yards.

“He always said that ‘A Marine never misses,” Bard said.

Although he joined what is considered the toughest branch of the military, Szwydek is remembered as being a kind person who was generally concerned about people. Wallace Szwydek, Steven's father, said he always had time for people, especially children. Bard recalled bringing her brother to speak to her class of fifth-graders while he was on leave.

“He had their attention more than we could have ever had their attention,” Bard said.

The family received word of their son’s death after closing up their family's convenience store in Warfordsburg Thursday evening when two Marines arrived at their home. The Marines have been with the family ever since and will remain there until they’re no longer needed.

“They have been here almost nonstop every day,” Bard said.

The family has also received support from the families of other Marines in the area in addition to the Marine Corps League, which has made travel arrangements so Szwydek's older brother in Oklahoma can attend the funeral.

“They have been such a tremendous help to us. I’m sure that we’ll have a long-lasting relationship with them,” Nancy Szwydek said.

Visitation will be in the Needmore Bible Church Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in the church. Szwydek will be buried in Arlington (Virginia) National Cemetery in a private ceremony.

The family asks that donations in lieu of flowers be made to Fallen Heroes Fund of the Marine Corps League. Donations can be made to Nancy and Wallace Szwydek in care of the Warfordsburg branch of the Fulton County National Bank, 7781 Waterfall Rd., Hustontown, Pennsylvania 17229.

“He didn’t have to be a Marine, but he wanted to be a Marine,” Hoffner said.


 A Virginia-born Marine who was killed in Iraq told his parents when he was 5 that he wanted to join the Marines, family members said Sunday.

Steven W. Szwydek left for boot camp four days after he graduated high school.

Thursday, the 20-year-old Marine lance corporal on his second tour of duty in Iraq was killed by a roadside bomb during combat, according to the Department of Defense.

Friends and relatives of Szwydek gathered Sunday at his home in this Fulton County town to remember him.

"We did try to talk him into -- very strongly -- looking into other branches of the armed forces," said his father, Wallace Szwydek.

Szwydek was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was killed with two other Marines -- Lance Corporal Andrew David Russoli, 21, of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Staff Serhgant Rick Pummill, 27, of Cincinnati -- near Nasser Wa Salaam, 25 miles west of Baghdad.

Szwydek was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and in 2003 graduated from Southern Fulton High School, where he played outfield and catcher on the baseball team, managed the basketball team, sang in the school choir and was chaplain for the Future Farmers of America chapter

"He was one of the nicest guys you ever knew," said friend Timothy Keebaugh. "He'd do anything to help you out. He was a funny guy" who loved the outdoors.

Living about 50 miles from Gettysburg, he also was a military history enthusiast and accumulated a military weapons collection that included firearms dating back to World War I.

His younger brother, Corey, said Szwydek had discussed leaving the Marines to attend college and then returning as an officer.



25 October 2005:

Steven Szwydek seemed born to be a United States Marine.

SW Szwydek PHOTO

His mother, Nancy Szwydek said looking at pictures of her son throughout his life is like watching an evolution from a young boy with toy guns and camouflage pajamas to a young man with the real articles.

The 20-year-old Lance Corporal from Warfordsburg died doing the only thing he ever wanted to do last week. Szwydek was killed along with two other Marines by a roadside bomb during Thursday combat in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. He is the second Fulton County man to die since combat began.

Szwydek was serving in the Weapons Company Second Battalion, Second Marine Regimental Combat Team Eight, Second Marine Division based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in battle as well as the Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.

Szwydek was remembered as a young man who was fascinated with the military and history. Nancy Szwydek said her son constantly watched the History Channel. Todd Hoffner taught Steven Szwydek in seventh and eighth grade and as a junior and senior at Southern Fulton High School, Warfordsburg, where he graduated in 2003.

Hoffner described him as a walking wealth of information when it came to history of the military.

“Any time someone would ask me a question relating to the military or wars, I’d refer them to Steven. He did have a vast amount of knowledge,” Hoffner said.

As graduation approached, Steven Szwydek was still determined to become a Marine. However, his parents urged him to look at the other branches to see what they had to offer. Nancy Szwydek recalled listening to some of the benefits and enticements that recruiting officers were offering, then going back to the Marines recruiter.

“I asked him what he had to offer and he said, ‘He either wants to be a Marine or he doesn’t,” she said.

He wanted to be a Marine, so much that he attempted to return to Iraq early after his first tour. Szwydek returned to the United States in October last year after seven months in the Gulf. In January 2005 he volunteered to go back early, but eventually had to wait for a second deployment in July.

Szwydek's sister, Stephanie Bard, said her brother, who was single, was looking to take the place of a soldier who had a family back home.

“He didn’t become a Marine to just sit around a base,” Nancy Szwydek said.

Szwydek was proficient not only with history but also with a firearm. He was qualified as an expert when he was tested for sharpshooting and, according to his father, hit a bull’s-eye nine out of 10 times from 500 yards.

“He always said that ‘A Marine never misses,” Bard said.

Although he joined what is considered the toughest branch of the military, Szwydek is remembered as being a kind person who was generally concerned about people. Wallace Szwydek, Steven's father, said he always had time for people, especially children. Bard recalled bringing her brother to speak to her class of fifth-graders while he was on leave.

“He had their attention more than we could have ever had their attention,” Bard said.

The family received word of their son’s death after closing up their family's convenience store in Warfordsburg Thursday evening when two Marines arrived at their home. The Marines have been with the family ever since and will remain there until they’re no longer needed.

“They have been here almost nonstop every day,” Bard said.

The family has also received support from the families of other Marines in the area in addition to the Marine Corps League, which has made travel arrangements so Szwydek's older brother in Oklahoma can attend the funeral.

“They have been such a tremendous help to us. I’m sure that we’ll have a long-lasting relationship with them,” Nancy Szwydek said.

Visitation will be in the Needmore Bible Church Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in the church. Szwydek will be buried in Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery in a private ceremony.

The family asks that donations in lieu of flowers be made to Fallen Heroes Fund of the Marine Corps League. Donations can be made to Nancy and Wallace Szwydek in care of the Warfordsburg branch of the Fulton County National Bank, 7781 Waterfall Rd., Hustontown, Pa. 17229.

“He didn’t have to be a Marine, but he wanted to be a Marine,” Hoffner said.


Saturday October 29, 2005
At least 400 pay respects to Marine

NEEDMORE, PENNSYLVANIA - Red, white and blue bows fluttered on mailboxes for about six miles of U.S. 522 between Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, and Needmore Bible Church on Friday morning.

Hundreds of little American flags lined both sides of the long curved drive leading up the hill to the church.

Inside, more than 400 people - parents, siblings, relatives, friends, plus a detachment of 15 Marines - came to pay homage to Lance Cpl. Steven Walter Szwydek, their 20-year-old son, brother, nephew, friend and fellow Marine.

Szwydek, of Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, was killed in combat October 20, 2005, in Nasser Wa Salaam, Iraq. He was serving his second tour in Iraq when he and two other Marines were killed by an enemy explosive device.

Szwydek's body was in a flag-draped casket in front of the church Friday morning. Behind the casket, the Rev. Doug Poffenberger officiated the Marine's funeral service.

First Sergeant Dave Jobe said the Marines were at the church "to honor a fallen Marine and support the family."

Jobe stood by Steven Szwydek's parents, Wallace M. and Nancy Szwydek of Warfordsburg, while they and other family members greeted the mourners who filed one-by-one by their small reception line prior to the service.

Jobe provided reassurance to the family.

"We are OK," Jobe told Nancy Szwydek. "We got lots of Marines here."

A photo of Szwydek wearing fatigues and in a relaxed pose was on the counter near the reception line. The caption with the photo said, "You must not judge a life by its length, but by its depth."

Poffenberger opened the service by thanking the Lord for blessing the nation "and those who so willingly have given themselves to defend her."

Speaker after speaker, in their eulogies, spoke of Szwydek's childhood; his love of military history, hunting and things outdoors; his expertise with guns; achieving his goal of becoming a Marine sniper; and his love of country, community and family.

Szwydek signed up for the Marines while he was a senior at Southern Fulton Junior/Senior High School. He left for boot camp four days after he graduated in June 2003. The war in Iraq was in its fourth month by then.

The first to eulogize Szwydek was his uncle, Stanley Szwydek.

"I tried to write some different things about Steve, but I really didn't know what to say," he said.

He spoke of family history - how one side of the family came from the western Virginia coal fields, while the other side was a blue-collar family from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

"Some people are here today because they know Mike (Wallace) and Nancy," Stanley Szwydek said. "Ninety-nine percent are here because if ever they talked to Steve, he was your friend. That's just the way Steve was."

Another uncle told of how when Szwydek returned from his first tour in Iraq, the family held a welcome-home party for him. He spent much of the time watching the news on television.

"While he was glad to be home, he felt he needed to be back in Iraq with his buddies," the uncle said.

"When I close my eyes and see you, I see you standing at attention watching over us," the uncle said of his Marine Corps nephew.

When the service ended, the Marines who made up the honor guard for the service marched down the aisle and out a side door. Two Marines held the flag over the coffin as the quiet inside the church was shattered by three volleys fired from the rifles of the Marines outside.

Szwydek will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.



Fallen Marine’s Parents Establish Memorial 
 Seek donations to fund student trips to Arlington National Cemetery 
9 February 2006
 Lindsay R. Mellott
Courtesy of The Fulton County News

A memorial fund that honors the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces has been established by a fallen Fulton County Marine’s parents, Mike and Nancy Szwydek.

Formed in January, the nonprofit Semper Fi Memorial will provide money to the county’s three school districts to cover the cost of taking high school students on annual field trips to Arlington National Cemetery.

The Warfordsburg couple’s son, 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Steven W. Szwydek, was killed in Iraq on October 20, 2005, when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated while he was driving the lead Humvee on combat operations near Nasser Wa Salaam.

Two other Marines with Szwydek also lost their lifes.

Lance Corporal Szwydek was assigned to Weapons Co., 2nd Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was about half way through his second tour of duty in Iraq at the time of his death.

The Szwydeks say that instead of setting up a scholarship in their son’s name, they wanted to provide young people with an experience that would teach them something about the reality of war and the selflessness of those who serve their country.

Mike and Nancy hope that students will come away from Arlington with a better understanding of freedom’s high price. “Maybe gain a little respect for what our military does, our freedoms, what we have in this country,” said Nancy on Friday as she paged through a photo album highlighting her son’s military career at the village store she and her husband own and operate in Dott.

The idea for the memorial fund took root following Steven’s funeral service at Arlington. According to Nancy, as many as 60 FFA members representing all three county school chapters – Steven belonged to Southern Fulton’s chapter – attended the service.

“We received so many comments from the students about how they look at the flag differently and things like that,” Nancy said.

Money donated to the Semper Fi Memorial will be used exclusively for the cost of chartering buses and meal allowances. The Szwydeks will assume all other memorial fund expenses, such as postage, long distance phone calls and other administrative costs.

Nancy said that students could possibly visit other places of interest in Washington, D.C., as part of the trip. That, she said, along with who goes – juniors or seniors – is up to the schools.

On the bus ride to Arlington, Nancy said, a DVD of her son’s memorial service in Iraq will be shown. “We realize that down the road students will not know who Steven is, but they’ll be able to see what it’s like to be part of a unit and what our military goes through.”

So far, Steven’s alma mater, Southern Fulton, has said it wants its senior classes to take the trip. Nancy has spoken with McConnellsburg High School principal Todd Beatty and expects that his school will want to be included and, she said, she is waiting to hear back from Forbes Road after contacting the high school by phone.

Nancy, her husband and two of their adult children administer the memorial fund, which is able this year to only underwrite the cost of Southern Fulton’s trip to Arlington in the spring.

“By next year I’m hoping to send all three (schools),” Nancy said. “We want it to be a yearly thing, that’s why we’re trying to get the word out a little bit about the memorial fund itself, thinking that Fulton County people might be interested in donating to something like that.”

Fundraising for the Semper Fi Memorial has just begun. Over the next weeks, the Szwydeks plan to solicit donations from churches, community organizations and individuals. Because it has been given 501(c)3 status by the Internal Revenue Service, contributions to the fund are tax deductible and should be made payable to The Semper Fi Memorial, c/o Nancy Szwydek, 276 Mays Chapel Road, Warfordsburg, PA 17267.

Nancy also said that a February blood drive at Warfordsburg Presbyterian Church Faith Center will be held in her son’s honor. She hopes to place a memorial fund donation box there for contributions.

Weapons Co. is on its way home to Camp Lejeune this week and the Szwydeks are leaving on Friday to be there for the troops homecoming. “The guys have asked,” Nancy said. “We’ve gotten letters from Iraq and they want us there.”

Nancy admits that the homecoming will be emotional for her and the family, but said she thinks being there will be helpful. “I think it will help us with some closure,” she said.

“You know, this community has helped us,” she said. “This community has really been so supportive – the community, the Marines, families. That helps us until we have our heads on straight ... .”

Additional information about the Semper Fi Memorial can be obtained by calling Nancy at 717-294-6774.



Bronze Memorial Pays Tribute To A Fallen Hero 
Statue dedicated to Lance Corporal Steven Szwydek, others at Sunday service 
12 July 2006
By Lindsay R. Mellott
Courtesy of the Fulton County News

Hundreds gathered outside of Southern Fulton high School in Sunday’s late afternoon heat for the unveiling of a bronze statue that a determined Fulton County teenager wanted to erect in tribute to fallen Warfordsburg Marine Lance Corporal Steven Szwydek.

Amazingly it took 13-year-old Jamie Bryner just two months to raise more than the $4,000 needed to get the life-size battlefield image that depicts a rifle barrel-down behind combat boots, capped with a helmet and realize his dream.

So far, Jamie has raised $5,000 and says he “is still counting.” Money raised in excess of the memorial’s cost will be used for its ongoing care.

Jamie’s hope is that the statue honoring Lance Corporal Szwydek and others like him who died in service to their country will help keep their memory alive in a permanent way.

Lance Corporal Szwydek, a 2003 graduate of Southern Fulton, was killed October 20, 2005, by an improvised explosive device (IED) near Nasser Wa Salamm, just three months into his second deployment to Iraq with Weapons Co., 2nd Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Jamie, an eighth-grader at Szwydek’s alma mater, didn’t know the lance corporal well, but like his fallen hero had, he has wanted to be a Marine since he was a young boy. It was this lifelong passion for the U.S. Marine Corps and a friendship that grew with the Szwydek family from that passion that compelled him to find a way to acknowledge Steven Szwydek’s ultimate sacrifice.

“He’s (Szwydek) in the soul of every one of these Marines here today,” said Jamie.

Major Curtis L. Hill, public affairs officer, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, and Sunday’s master of ceremonies, told the 600 people who attended the service held inside the school before the memorial’s unveiling that Jamie has already shown the drive and tenactiy needed in the Marine Corps.

“This young men had an idea to recognize our fallen service members, determined the best way to do so, and saw it through to completion,” said Hill, who grew up near Needmore and graduated from Southern Fulton 20 years ago.

“I hope you know the impact you have had on us and all the people in this auditorium,” Nancy Szwydek told Jamie, “and how important it is that we never forget.” Her husband, Mike Szwydek, said, “We’re here today to celebrate that fighting spirit.”

Ten Marines from Weapons Company, who served with Lance Corporal Szwydek in Iraq, including company commander Major Brandon Conway, sat in the front of the auditorium. They listened to remarks made by senior officers Col. Robert Sembower, representing Governor Ed Rendell, and Brigadier General James C. Walker, secretary to the commandant of the Marine Corps.

General Walker said Sunday’s dedication service was “an amazing show of support for Lance Corporal Szwydek, for the country, for the Marine Corps, and for all that we stand for in America.”

Calling the memorial a reminder of “a man’s life worth imitating,” Szwydek’s company chaplain in Iraq, Lieutenant Teddy L. Williams, asked the audience to be always faithful “to the memory, to the courage and to the faithfulness” of Lance Corporal Szwydek.

Jamie’s parents, Curtis and Diana Bryner, expressed their gratitude to all who supported their son’s project. “The proud part comes from being the father of a fine, young man,” said Curtis.

Many of the speakers’ comments were affirmed by the Marines present, with enthusiastic “oorahs,” the Marine Corps’ traditional cheer, throughout the two-hour long service.

Other special guests included Marine Corps League detachments from Chambersburg, Hagerstown and Cumberland, the Patriot Riders, a combat veteran motorcycle club, and Corporal Seamus Garrahy, a veteran Marine who helped organize the service.

Vocal selections were performed by the St. Patrick’s Chorale of Hagerstown, Maryland, and Crystal Spring resident Alan Fischer and a Marine Corps brass quintet from Quantico, Va., played patriotic instrumental pieces.

An impressive ceremonial helicopter flyby by two Marine helicopters, a Huey gunship and a Cobra attack with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Detachment A, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, concluded the dedication of the memorial.

As they left the high school following the dedication, Belfast residents and Marine veteran Rich Mondelli said that Jamie’s efforts had revitalized his faith in young people. Mondelli’s wife said, “It’s heart-warming to know that young people can be so focused.”

Jamie plans to join the Marines through the Corps’ delayed entry program as soon as he is old enough. He and his mother are preparing care packages to send to Marines in Iraq and next summer, he will attend a two-week Young Marine boot camp at Camp Lejeune.

Corey, the Szwydek’s 18-year-old son, leaves for boot camp in August at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, and will eventually serve his country as part of the U.S. Navy Seabees.



Courtesy of the Herald-Mail.Com
10 May 2008

If not for the 60 teenagers gathered around it, the gravesite for Lance Corporal Steven Szwydek would not have stood out from the thousands of others lined up with military precision and damp from late spring showers on Friday afternoon.

SW Szwydek Visitors May 2008 PHOTO          SW Szwydek Visitors May 2008 PHOTO

To these students, however, this 42-inch by 13-inch stone at Arlington National Cemetery marked the final resting place of a hometown hero who graduated from their high school just five years ago.

Several Southern Fulton high schoolers commented that being in the cemetery was overwhelming, something that the Marine’s mother said she’s felt, too, now that the grave markers have become more personal.

“If they were like me before, they would go to Arlington and see the stones and not the people,” Nancy Szwydek said.

“The first time I went, I was really young and didn’t understand. This time it was really personal,” said Crystal Hughes, 18.

“It’s definitely different when you know the name on a tombstone,” said Kristin Palmer, 17.

The Semper Fi Memorial Fund, started in memory of Szwydek, paid for two buses that left the Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, school not long after sunrise. Each student was handed lunch money, also an expenditure from the memorial fund.

Nancy Szwydek said paying for the meal on the annual trips reminds her of her son, who was killed in October 2005 during his second tour of duty in Iraq. Several Marines have told her how the young man offered to take them to dinner when their spirits were in need of a boost.

“His buddies said that Steven would give them his last dime,” Nancy Szwydek said.

Comrades called Szwydek “the Marine’s Marine” during his overseas memorial service, a video of which was played on the buses.

The Semper Fi Memorial Fund pays for all Fulton County, Pennsylvania, high school seniors to make the trip to Arlington every year. It was the only field trip that the Southern Fulton seniors had taken as a group this year.

Erikka Macon, 17, said she would tell the Szwydeks that “I respect your son for serving our country. I really appreciate you taking us to his grave because it’s worth it.”

“I’m very thankful that we were able to do that to honor their son, who graduated from our school and was from this community,” said 19-year-old Cody Dicken, a member of the Army Reserves.

Nancy Szwydek said the trip encompasses two of her son’s strongest fascinations — history and the military.

“My son was an extreme patriot. He loved this country. ... I think he’d like to give a history lesson to others,” Nancy Szwydek said.

Many of the classmates hugged each other and wiped away tears while at Szwydek’s grave. For Kristin, the tears were connected to her brother’s role in the Army Reserves.

“He just left on Sunday to finish out his training in California and go to Iraq,” Kristin said.

When they first arrived at Arlington, the teenagers waited solemnly for a funeral to finish and a riderless horse to pass. An average of 27 funerals are conducted daily at the national cemetery.

“That’s somebody’s dad, somebody’s friend and somebody’s lover,” Crystal said.

“I’m always surprised by the amount of funerals that happen every day,” said Logan Fischer, 18.

“Just to see all the funerals going on, that was really emotional,” said 18-year-old Anthony Wertz, who was on his first trip to Arlington.

Shannon Kline, 18, went to the funeral for Szwydek, who was serving with Weapons Co., 2nd Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (also known as 2/2 Weapons Co.) when an improvised explosive detonated near Nasser Wa Salaam and killed three.

Kline remembers the 21-gun salute, playing of taps and the Marines who cared for the family. He found that Friday’s trip to Arlington was more relaxed.

“It wasn’t as formal, but we paid the respects that needed to be paid,” Shannon said.

Most members of the Class of 2008 did not know the fallen Marine very well, but several remarked on what they perceive to be his legacy.

It is to “drive forward on what you believe. All through school he said he wanted to be a Marine,” Cody said.

Steven Szwydek made that decision at age 5, according to his mother.

“He almost missed graduation to go to boot camp a week earlier. He always felt the Marine Corps was the best, and he wanted to be a part of the best,” Nancy Szwydek said.

“We feel very fortunate we had a son who knew what he wanted to do and followed his dream. I believe in quality of life. He sure did a lot with his 20 years,” she said.

Anthony summed up the Arlington experience as “very moving and very powerful.”

“Some people have a tendency to tune it out, but anywhere you go, you see the effects of the war,” Anthony said.

The mother of Lance Corporal Steven Szwydek said she would like to expand the offerings currently provided by the Semper Fi Memorial Fund. To contribute to that nonprofit fund, send checks payable to the “Semper Fi Memorial Fund” in care of Nancy Szwydek, 276 Mays Chapel Road, Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania 17267.

Visitors To SW Szwydek May 2007 PHOTO

SW Szwydek Gravesite PHOTO - May 2007 Visitors

SW Szwydek Gravesite PHOTO - May 2007 Visitors
Angie Booth, a teacher and family friend of slain Marine Lance Corporal Steven
Szwydek, places flowers on his grave as she leads students from Southern
Fulton High School in Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania, on a visit to his grave at
Arlington National Cemetery, Thursday, May 24, 2007. A fewyears ago, Lance 
Corporal Szwydek was a classmate of students at a high schoolin the mountains of 
Pennsylvania's Fulton County. Now the fallen Marine is part of a history lesson as 
students travel to the cemetery on a bus trip paid for by a memorial fund 
established by Szwydek's parents.

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Posted: 6 October 2005  Updated: 24 October 2005  Updated: 29 October 2005 Updated: 30 October 2005 Updated: 22 January 2006 Updated 9 February 2006 Updated: 24 July 2006 
Updated: 7 June 2007 Updated: 11 May 2008
Purple Heart Medal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bronze Star Medal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SW Szydek Gravesite PHOTO
Photo Courtesy of Holly, January 2006