Alan Dinh Lam – Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

29 April 2003:

Body of Lejeune Marine returns to home in North Carolina

The body of Camp Lejeune Marine Lance Corporal Alan D. Lam of Snow Camp was returned to Alamance County on Monday night.


Lam, 19, was killed in an accident in Iraq on April 22.

A memorial service will be held for him this evening at McClure Funeral Home in Graham during the second of two visitation periods.

The serviceman’s body, which will be on view during the visitation periods, was transferred Monday by plane to Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro from Dover, Delaware.

A group of eight Marines in dress blue uniforms saluted Lam’s flag-draped coffin as it was lowered from the underside of a U.S. Airways jet Monday night.

His body was taken to McClure Funeral Home from the airport.

Lam, a 2001 graduate of Southern Alamance High School, was the son of Adam and Brenda Lam of 8139 Bird Dog Drive, Snow Camp, and was the only boy among five children.

Marine officials reported last week that Lam and two other Marines were killed when a rocket-propelled grenade launcher malfunctioned and an explosion occurred during a training session. Seven Marines were injured.

The first visitation period will be from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and the second will be from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The minister will be a Marine chaplain from Camp Lejeune.

Lam, who graduated from basic training at the Marine Corps center at Parris Island, S.C., in early 2002, was based at Camp Lejeune before being transferred for duty in Iraq.

The memorial service in Graham will be followed Thursday by a “rights and honors” service for Lam at Arlington National Military Cemetery near Washington at 3 p.m.

The body of a Camp Lejeune Marine killed when an enemy grenade launcher misfired in Iraq has been brought home and will have a service at Arlington National Cemetery.The remains of Lance Corporal Alan D. Lam, 19, of Snow Camp arrived Monday night at Piedmont Triad International Airport. His family planned a visitation Tuesday at a Graham funeral home and a service Thursday morning at Arlington.

Two other Marines were killed when the accident occurred last week near the southern Iraqi city of Kut, officials said.

The Marines were firing the rocket propelled grenade – one of the more common weapons used by paramilitary, Fedayeen and other groups that have threatened U.S. and British forces – to familiarize themselves with it.

The launcher malfunctioned, Central Command said. The accident is under investigation.

Lam was a member of the 8th Communications unit based at Camp Lejeune, said Capt. George Palima from the Greensboro-based Marine Corps Reserve unit.

Lam graduated from Southern Alamance High School in 2001, and graduated from basic training at Parris Island, S.C., in early 2002.

Southern Alamance Principal Kent Byrd remembered Lam as a talented artist who worked on the school newspaper staff.

There's a gray two-door Honda CRX sitting in Lance Corporal Alan D. Lam's driveway, something his dad bought from a neighbor. It was a surprise awaiting Lam's return from Iraq.On Wednesday, the sporty coupe was joined by a half-dozen other cars — visitors paying respects to Lam's family. The 19-year-old Marine was killed Tuesday in Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade malfunctioned during training.

He's the Triad's first fatality and one of 131 Americans killed in the war. Lam is one of 25 coalition soldiers killed in land accidents.

Lam was based at Camp Lejeune and was a member of the 8th Com communications unit, said Capt. George Palaima from the Greensboro-based Marine Corp Reserve unit.

Two other Marines were killed and seven more were wounded during the accident, which happened on a training range near the southern Iraqi city of Kut. The unit with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was using rocket-propelled grenades — Palaima described them as rockets on sticks — when the launcher malfunctioned.

The Marines are investigating the accident.

Palaima notified Lam's parents, Adam and Brenda Lam, at 10 p.m. Tuesday. Alan Lam was one of five children, the youngest and the couple's only son. Family and friends gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Lams' home just outside of Snow Camp.

The Lams declined to be interviewed. Neighbors, however, spoke of their unwavering support for Alan Lam and his military service. When he shipped out, the Lams placed yellow and red-white-and-blue ribbons on mailboxes along Bird Dog Lane.

Teachers and students at Southern Alamance High School were stunned and saddened by news of his death. Principal Kent Byrd remembered him as a talented artist who worked on the school newspaper staff.

“We are just so deeply saddened at the loss and just grieve for the family,” Byrd said. “If you wanted to choose the kind of kid you'd like to have on your high school campus, Alan would be an example of that.”

Since graduating in 2001 and joining the Marines, Lam had returned to the school to visit one of his favorite teachers, Geraldine Fox, who he took college preparatory English from his senior year.

“He was in his uniform, just grinning from ear to ear,” she said.

Lam loved Shakespeare's “Macbeth,” Fox said. He also loved the Marines, even before he enlisted. For a senior research paper and presentation on potential careers, Lam explored the military. He and other students did their presentation outside, demonstrating push-ups and other calisthenics.

“He liked physical activity,” Fox said. “I think he was also very proud of his country. He was very proud to be part of the military.”

Neighbors remember Lam as a rarity — a cheerful, helpful teenager. Darlene Rios, a neighbor, said he often volunteered to cut her grass with his riding lawn mower or help her plant flowers.

He didn't forget about her during his time in Iraq, either. Lam called home frequently, and always sent greetings to her through his folks.

“You don't see that in young kids,” Rios said. “It was like he was raised with a lot of respect.”

It was Rios who sold her Honda coupe to Lam's father. The teenager always fancied her car, eyeing it as he helped her do yard work.

On Wednesday, Rios learned about Lam's death from a television news crew. She reminisced with reporters about her teenage friend, then summoned her strength to visit the family.

“Find out if there's anything I can do, Darlene,” neighbor Selma Keyes told her.

“Selma, there's nothing we can do,” Rios said. “We can't bring Alan back.”

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 271-03
April 24, 2003


The Department of Defense identified today three Marines killed in a non-hostile accident during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They were killed when a rocket-propelled grenade launcher they were firing for familiarization malfunctioned.  The incident occurred April 22 on a firing range near the city of Al Kut, Iraq. Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Todd Arnold, 30, of  Spring, Texas.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Chief Warrant Officer Robert William Channell Jr., 36, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Lance Corporal Alan Dinh Lam, 19, of Snow Camp, North Carolina.  He was assigned to the 8th Communication Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The incident is currently under investigation.

3 North Carolina Marines Killed

Weapons Accident Occurred in Iraq
26 April 2003

Three Camp Lejeune Marines died Tuesday in a weapons accident near Kut, Iraq. They were Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Todd Arnold, 30, of Spring, Texas; Chief Warrant Officer Robert William Channell Jr., 36, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Lance Corporal Alan Dinh Lam, 19, of Snow Camp, North Carolina. Here are glimpses of the lives of Lam and Channell:

Loving his dream job

When Alan Dinh Lam graduated from Southern Alamance High School in Graham two years ago, there was no doubt among those who knew him that Lam would enlist in the Marines as soon as possible.

“It was obvious he had really thought this through and was deeply committed to serving his country,” said Principal Kent Byrd. “People were proud of him. But it was still an awful shock when we heard he had been killed.”

Lam and his family, which includes his parents Adam and Brenda and four older sisters, moved to Snow Camp two years ago. Lam enlisted after graduating in June 2001. He finished basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in early 2002.

“He was a really, really sweet guy,” said Jennifer Griffin, who graduated with Lam. “Most people liked him whether or not they knew him well.”

At Southern Alamance, he worked on the school newspaper, the Patriot Press, and was a member of the Art Club. Laura Perry, who was Lam's senior year art teacher, called him a natural artist. While Lam was quiet while concentrating on a drawing, Perry said as soon he was finished he would be up talking.

A favorite topic: the Corps.

“He came back to see me about a year ago,” she said. “He was in his uniform, and I asked him how he was. With a huge smile he said he was great. He hugged me — and then he went off to visit another teacher.”

Lam's body was on its way back to the United States on Thursday, where it was to arrive at the military mortuary in Dover, Delaware.

Chief Warrant Officer David Dennis of the Marine Corps reserve center in Greensboro said Lam's family would hold a private funeral in Snow Camp, to be followed by a service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Family's heart and soul

Chief Warrant Officer Robert Channell was an outgoing and loving man who coached a football team at Camp Lejeune and always made time to help people, his family said Wednesday.

“He was proud to be over there protecting us,” his mother, Eva Sutton, said from her home in Largo, Ala. “He believed in it.”

Channell was born and reared in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, After graduating from high school, he joined the Marines and married his high school sweetheart, Joyce, taking her to military bases as far from home as Japan.

Joyce and the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Bethany, live at Camp Lejeune.

“Joyce told her daughter last night that her daddy got hurt real bad and he was going home to God,” Sutton said. “She said, ‘Does that mean we don't have a daddy anymore?' ”

Channell was planning to retire in three years but hoping for one last assignment to Japan or Hawaii, his sister Tammy Woolbright said, calling her brother the family's “heart and soul.”

Channell mostly was upbeat in Iraq but had tough times, too.

“War sucks,” he recently told his mother on the phone after learning of the death of another Alabama soldier. “We lost a lot of good men.”

Channell was burned and scarred on his face as a child, prompting stares. His mother said that it never fazed him. “He tried to make people feel comfortable with it,” Sutton said. “He just said people had to like him for himself. And they did, everyone loved him.”


  • IRAQ
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 11/16/1983
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/22/2003

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