Andrew Grant Patten – Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1252-05
December 3, 2005

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of 10 Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  • Staff Sergeant Daniel J. Clay, 27, of Pensacola, Florida
  • Lance Corporal John M. Holmason, 20, of Suprise, Arizona
  • Lance Corporal David A. Huhn, 24, of Portland, Michigan
  • Lance Corporal Adam W. Kaiser, 19, of Naperville, Illinois
  • Lance Corporal Robert A. Martinez, 20, of Splendora, Texas
  • Corporal Anthony T. McElveen, 20, of Little Falls, Minnesota
  • Lance Corporal Scott T. Modeen, 24, of Hennepin, Minnesota
  • Lance Corporal Andrew G. Patten, 19, of Byron, Illinois
  • Sergeant Andy A. Stevens, 29, of Tomah, Wisconsin
  • Lance Corporal Craig N. Watson, 21, of Union City, Michigan

All 10 Marines died December 1, 2005, from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Fallujah, Iraq.  All 10 Marines were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.  During Operation Iraqi Freedom, their unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Byron Marine ‘gave everything he had’
The city plans to lower its flags to half-staff this month in honor of Andrew Patten.
Courtesy of the Rockford Register Star


BYRON, ILLINOIS — Eddie Engelert recalled one of the last conversations he had with his good friend Andrew Patten before the Marine shipped off to Iraq in July.

“His words were that he was going over there to accomplish the mission, and he wasn’t going to come home until its done,” he said. “I didn’t want him to go, but he went to do his duty, and freedom isn’t free.”

The 19-year-old lance corporal from Byron was among 10 members of the 2nd Marine Division killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in Fallujah. It was the worst attack on U.S. troops in the war since 14 Marines were killed in a similar incident in August.

The attack, which also killed Lance Corporal Adam W. Kaiser, 19, of Naperville, brought the number of confirmed U.S. deaths in Iraq to 2,127.

Engelert, 20, of Chana met Patten in sixth grade through Maywood Evangelical Free Church in Byron. They hit it off because they were “high-energy kids” who would go fishing, rock-climbing and ride all-terrain vehicles together.

The Northern Illinois University student found out the bad news Friday from his parents.

“I was kind of in shock. I couldn’t believe it for the first hour or so,” he said. “It still doesn’t make sense to me, but we have to trust God and that’s the only thing we can do.”

Jason Engelert, 17, said he became close to Patten through his big brother.

“He knew how to entertain you, and he was fun to be around and always had something to say,” he said.

Larry Seagren, administrative pastor at Maywood Evangelical, served as Patten’s youth pastor when he was in elementary school. He said the church will display his picture and have a moment of silence in his honor during today’s service.

“It’s kind of shock and disbelief at the same time. We were very close throughout the years,” he said.

“He was a dynamic kid who gave everything he had to everything he did. He had a very strong faith in God, and that’s what gave him strength.”

Mayor R. Scot Nason proclaimed that all flags in the city will be flown at half-staff for the remainder of the month.

“Our country is more for Lance Cpl. Patten’s service, and the community of Byron is lessened by his loss,” Nason said in a press release. “We mourn with his family, and will remain eternally grateful for his service.”

Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, who works closely with veterans and military personnel in Illinois, said his staff “will help the family with whatever they need. It’s obviously a traumatic time. Sometimes there are questions and issues that maybe a family might have that they need to tend to, and we try to help in any way possible.”

Patten will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery; services, which will be at Maywood, have not been scheduled.

Dead Marines Had Expected Iraq Deployment

BYRON, Illinois, December 3, 2005 – Like Lance Corporal Andrew G. Patten, most of the 10 marines who died on Thursday in the worst attack on American troops in months were young, young enough to have joined the military already knowing they might well be sent to Iraq.

Corporal Patten, whose family set out in falling snow here on Saturday to meet with a funeral director, was 19. When he enlisted, after graduating from Byron High School last year, the war was already a year old. He had registered for classes at a nearby college, said his father, Alan, but then he changed his mind and signed up.

“He was very excited to go to Iraq and see some action,” said his mother, Gayle Naschansky. “Originally, I didn't want him to go in.” She quickly added: “But it's your kid, and when he's made up his mind, you have to support him.”

In Byron, a town of about 3,000 people 100 miles west of Chicago, and in nine other towns around the country, Marine families on Saturday mourned their lost sons, many of whom represented a new generation of troops – those who enlisted after the nation went to war in Iraq.

Two of the men killed when an improvised bomb went off in Falluja were 19 years old; three were 20; one was 21. Eight had joined the Marines sometime after March 2003, the month the war began, Department of Defense records show.

Lance Corporal John M. Holmason, 20, was working at an Applebee's in Surprise, Arizona, when he decided to enlist. The war was well under way; the month of his enlistment, September 2004, also marked the 1000th American death in Iraq.

Though some of his relatives had objected, fearing for his safety, Corporal Holmason seemed certain of his choice, his family said.

“When he joined the Marines, he knew that because of the war, there was a good possibility that he would go to Iraq,” said Julie Holmason, his grandmother. “I was one of the ones to try and convince him not to do infantry. I talked to him very long and hard about that. But it didn't change his mind. ‘Grandma,' he says, ‘I know that's a possibility, but that's what I want to do.' “

All 10 of those killed while on foot patrol on Thursday were members of the First Marine Division, based at Twentynine Palms, California. Eleven other marines were also injured in the attack. The deaths and injuries – the worst involving American troops in four months – prompted relatives of marines to flock to Web sites to converse with other marine families in search of news.

In Splendora, Texas, some 35 miles from Houston, Lance Corporal Robert A. Martinez had known since the sixth grade that he wanted to join the military, said his mother, Kelly Hunt. He signed up for a “delayed entry” program while he was still in high school in 2002, then left for boot camp in June 2003, two days after finishing Cleveland High School.

Corporal Martinez was 20 and on his second deployment to Iraq when he died.

“He wanted to protect his family,” Mrs. Hunt said. “He said he was doing it for us.”

Corporal Martinez believed strongly in the mission in Iraq, his family members said, as they do. Still, Mrs. Hunt recalled on Saturday, she had tried to talk her son out of enlisting many times. Her reason was simple: “I knew there was a war going on and didn't want him to go.”

Among the oldest marines killed in the explosion on Thursday was Staff Sergeant Daniel J. Clay, of Pensacola, Florida. He was 27 and had served for nearly a decade. Like those who signed up after the war began, Sergeant Clay had told his family that he believed fully in the job he was doing in Iraq.

“He was a true patriot who believed in his mission and President Bush,” his mother, Sarah Jo, said on Saturday.

Around the country, relatives of those killed on Thursday said they had expected the men, who were deployed in July, to come home in January. Some had made plans for reunion parties. Others said they had scheduled trips to California.

In Naperville, Illinois, Lance Corporal Adam W. Kaiser's family was going to leave their Christmas decorations up until he returned from duty.

As it is now, said his father, Wade, Christmas is hard to imagine at all.

“He was a hard one to read sometimes,” Mr. Kaiser said, “but I always knew that when it came time for him to graduate from high school, even with the war on terror, he was going to join. That's what he wanted to do.”

Corporal Kaiser joined the Marines last year and died on Thursday at age 19.

Parents Reflect on the Life of Their Late Military Son
Family Mourns Their Fallen Marine

“He didn't have any enemies, just a great kid. I couldn't ask for a better son,” father Alan Patten said.

“He was just a great son, patriotic, wanted to serve his country,” mother Gayle Patten-Naschansky said.

In speaking with his grief-filled parents, you understand the dedication the late Lance Corporal Andrew Patten had in both the military, and in life.

“He felt the Marines were the elite force, and that's where he wanted to go from the start,” his mother said.

The 2004 Byron graduate died outside of Fallujah Thursday from a roadside bomb. Before his seven-month deployment to Iraq, Patten was enthusiastic about the call to defend his nation.

“He just said that he had a mission and was gonna go there and do the mission and them come home,” Andrew's father said.

Tragically, that mission was cut short before its completion. Now, Patten's parents and friends lean on each other as they mourn their Marine, a Marine so musical, so caring, and now so deeply missed.

“It's kind of a long process, the way everything has happened. It's going to be a lot to deal with, so we just take it an hour at a time,” Andrew's mother said.

But now every second the reality sinks in for these parents that their military son is never coming home.

Funeral arrangements are still being worked out for Lance Corporal Andrew Patten. There will be a visitation for the fallen Marine at Olson Funeral Chapels. Then, his body will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

December 13, 2005
Courtesy of the Rockford Register Star

If you met Andrew Patten, you probably remember his smile, his good-natured sense of humor and his strong sense of faith.

People who never met him, many of whom gathered at his funeral Monday morning at Maywood Evangelical Free Church in Rockford, learned about those traits and got a two-hour glimpse of the 19-year-old’s life as a mischievous youth-group member and loyal Marine who enlisted knowing what the future could bring.

Patten and nine other Marines died after an explosion December 1, 2005, in Fallujah. On Monday, his fellow Marines gathered to pay tribute, and his friends and church family eulogized a man they call a hero. His was one of four military funerals held in Illinois since Saturday.

“Andy joined the Marines knowing full well that we were in a time of war. He wasn’t scared. He knew what his chances were when he went in, and he loved this country,” friend Eric Johnson said.

On Wednesday, Patten’s family will gather for his burial in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

‘An American hero’

A group of uniformed Marines escorted Patten’s flag-draped casket down the church aisle as more than 600 mourned. A dozen bouquets lined the altar, giving the sanctuary a fresh-flower smell.

Maywood Administrative Pastor Larry Seagren was the first speaker to mention Patten’s smile, which he said often “bordered on mischievous.” Patten and his family were longtime members of Maywood, where people say he developed a deep interest in religion. Patten’s photo is posted on the church’s Web site. His military company had nicknamed him “the Rev.”

Seagren’s voiced choked up several times during his eulogy, when he spoke of Patten’s musical talents, youth-group adventures and insatiable appetite. Patten played piano but also studied viola, trumpet and guitar. He played trumpet just long enough to travel with the high school band to Disney World, Seagren joked.

“He had too much energy for his body to contain,” Seagren said. “His dad told me he could devour an entire frozen pizza, and 15 minutes later, he would be asking about dinner.”

Seagren and his wife talked to Patten last June about going to Iraq. Patten planned to attend college when he returned from the war. Seagren also read a letter written by Patten’s mother, Gayle Naschansky, father, Alan Patten, and sister, Allison Patten, that said Patten dreamed about being a Marine.

“You’ll always be our dreamer, an American hero,” the letter said.

‘Always himself’

Monday’s service included several musical numbers performed by Patten’s friends, a worship group at Maywood that he had been a part of. Group member Matt Nyberg and friend Mike Bond spoke emotionally about Patten’s sense of humor and dependability.

Bond and Patten met during Bond’s senior year of high school, and the two regularly bowled together. Bond said Patten quickly earned the name “Twinkletoes” for his style of approaching and throwing the ball.

“He was always himself,” Bond said. “There was nothing fake about him. Andy didn’t compromise who he was for anybody.

“Even when we did nothing, it was fun to be around Andy. He could make anybody smile. There were times when we did nothing but sit and talk. … It was so amazing how Andy could turn ordinary situations into extraordinary ones.”

Nyberg earned several laughs with stories about crazy behavior at snow camp and mission trips. He and Bond agreed that it was difficult to watch Patten leave for Iraq, but they were able to talk and see each other on breaks.

“On Dec. 1, all these memories we treasure that at the time just seemed like an ordinary day became once-in-a-lifetime kinds of memories,” Nyberg said.

Choking back tears, he added that pictures and songs, and days such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day will trigger memories of Patten.

“When I do that, I know I’m going to stand a little taller, I’ll hold my head up high and I’m going to smile because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that on December 1, 2005, Andy came into the presence of his creator, his savior, his God and he heard the words ‘Well done,’ ” Nyberg said.

“And right now, he’s just sitting up in heaven, waiting for all of us to get up there and join the celebration.”

A video screen showed photos of Patten as a messy-faced toddler sitting in his highchair through graduation at Byron High School to his time in the Marines, all set to music by Tim McGraw’s song, “My Old Friend.”

Maywood Senior Pastor Scott Nesse said that God used the Marines to bring added focus to Patten’s life. Through the church, Patten interacted with many mentors. But in the end, Patten became the mentor, Nesse said.

“There are going to be more men, better men walking the streets of Rockford and elsewhere because of Andy Patten and what God did through him,” Nesse said.

Byron Marine Patten buried in Arlington
The 19-year-old was the third war casualty from Illinois laid to rest in the cemetery.

Before going to Iraq, Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Grant Patten told his parents where he wanted to be buried in the event he was killed.

“He didn’t even hesitate,” said his mother, Gayle Naschansky. “He said, ‘If anything happens to me, I want to be in Arlington.’ ”

On Wednesday, Patten’s country honored his request.

The 19-year-old Byron native was laid to rest under a bleak winter sky on one of the coldest days in Washington this year. His staff sergeant, Daniel Clay of Pensacola, Florida, had been buried in the adjoining grave two hours earlier.

They and eight other Marines were killed December 1, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded while they were on foot patrol in Fallujah.

“Andrew was by any definition a hero,” Navy Chaplain Commander Peter Gregory said. “When others fled, he didn’t. He stood his duty.”

Marine Corps Honor Guard members held the flag over Patten’s casket as seven riflemen fired three volleys and a bugler played taps. The flag was folded and given to Patten’s father, Alan, who was surrounded by about 20 family members and friends.

Patten is the first Byron native killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the third war casualty from Illinois, to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Many of those Patten is buried near were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only about 10 percent of casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom are buried in the cemetery.

“If you die while on active duty, you can be buried at Arlington,” Arlington historian Tom Sherlock said. “After that, it’s up to the next of kin.”

The vastness of the historic cemetery, with its neat rows of white tombstones, impressed Patten when he visited the site as a 16-year-old tourist from Byron High School, his mother said.

Even then, he was “very patriotic, very military minded,” said Naschansky, who remembered her son coming home and talking about seeing the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“To a kid from a small town, that was just something you don’t see every day,” she said.

In the center of the cemetery, Patten’s grave is about a half-mile from that tomb and from the graves of presidents Kennedy and Taft. His tombstone will read “Our Beloved Son.”

“We just feel it’s an honor to have our son here,” Naschansky said before the service.

Known to his Marines as “The Rev.” for his devout faith, Patten was scheduled to return by late December or early January to the Twentynine Palms Marine base in California.

“He said, ‘All I want to do when I get back is have a big steak dinner and go to sleep,’ ” Naschansky said.

He had been a Marine for a little more than a year, going straight from boot camp to infantry school and training for Iraq, where he deployed on July 4, 2005.

Naschansky doesn’t believe her son died in vain. She wishes the president could hear her say that. She believes her son’s friend, Eddie Engelert, put it best: “If we quit every time someone is killed, there would be no America.”

She said she and her husband will return to Arlington for “private time with Andy.” But now she plans to take time to absorb her loss.

“I just want to go home and grieve properly,” she said.

10 February 2006:

“Many of us in this chamber have sons, daughters, relatives that are serving in combat zones. I feel very privileged: My son served three combat tours and I got him home every time. Alan and Gayle weren’t near as lucky. I think one of things we’ve all heard many times in our lifetime is only the good die young. Andy Patten was 19 years old, an outstanding young Marine, the pride of the Class of 2004 of Byron High School. He is sadly missed and was greatly loved.”

State Representative Jim Sacia stood before a silent Illinois House Thursday and, with those words, paid tribute to the late Lance Corporal Andrew Grant Patten of Byron.

Sacia, R-Pecatonica, spoke as Patten’s parents, Alan Patten and Gayle Naschansky, watched from their seats in the overhead House gallery. He told his colleagues of Patten’s deep connection to his dual communities — his home in the Rock River Valley and his home among fellow Marines.

Sacia also spoke of Patten’s great faith in God. Other Marines called Patten “the Rev” because of his closeness to God and his willingness to share his beliefs.

“In my lifetime I’ve attended many funerals,” Sacia said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so touched as (I was at) the funeral for Lance Cpl. Andy Patten. I don’t think I have ever attended a funeral where a pastor could not keep his composure. And that was because of his personal love for a fine young man and the way that this young man touched not only the community of Byron, the 89th legislative district, but certainly his church.”

More than 600 people attended Patten’s funeral services at Maywood Evangelical Free Church in Rockford, where he and his family had worshipped. Patten was laid to rest December 14, 2005, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Patten, 19, and nine other Marines were killed December 1,2005, in an explosion near Fallujah in Iraq.

“It’s an honor to have Rep. Sacia speak about our son today,” said Patten’s mother, Gayle Naschansky, who was joined by her husband, Victor Naschansky, after the ceremony. “Rep. Sacia has had children also serve in the military so he, better than some, knows the concern and worry we have as parents when our kids go off to war.”

Sacia presented Patten’s parents with two American flags that flew at half-staff over the Capitol and copies of a resolution detailing Patten’s legacy. The House clerk read the resolution into the chamber’s record before Sacia spoke.

“We wanted to come down (to Springfield) for Andy’s honor,” said Patten’s father, Alan Patten, who was joined by his wife, Diane Patten. “We know that all the military people from the state (who die in combat) are recognized so we just felt that we needed to be here on Andy’s behalf.”

Simply put, Sacia praised Patten as an extraordinary American.

“Lance Cpl. Andy Patten made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sacia told his colleagues.

With that, all of the state’s representatives bowed their heads in a moment of silence.

The City of Byron dedicated a fallen soldier memorial to honor native son Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Grant Patten at 2 p.m., Monday, September 11, 2006, at the Byron Cemetery.

“This young man’s sacrifice is an example of dedication to the service of this country,” said Mayor R. Scot Nason. “This memorial will serve as a reminder to Andy’s ideal of ‘service over self.’ Andy was a giving member of our community, and we are better for having known him.”

Andrew Patten was born June 1, 1986, and graduated from Byron High School in 2004. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps August 6, 2004, graduating from Basic Training Oct. 29, 2004. Corporal Patten was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, December 1, 2005, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

The memorial was made possible through donations of time, talent and money. The Byron Cemetery Association designated the site; the City of Byron dug the foundation and purchased the plaque and capstone. Members of Bricklayers and Affiliated Craft Workers Local No. 6 donated the material, constructed the pedestal, and attached the plaque and sculpture. Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Station donated the funds to purchase the bronze casting. Corporal Patten’s parents, Gayle Naschansky and Al Patten, approached the City of Byron about a memorial in January. Mayor Nason led the efforts to find a suitable place and funding for the memorial.

Speakers at the dedication were Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, State Rep. Jim Sacia, Mayor R. Scot Nason, Pastor Larry Segren, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Darrin Denny, and Andy’s sister Allison Patten.

Casket team folds American flag during ceremony for Lance Corporal Andrew Grant Patten
Gunnery Sergeant Barry L. Baker presents folded American flag to Alan Patten, (right of center) who's son Lance Corporal Andrew Grant Patten, USMC, was the 203rd person killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/01/1986
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/01/2005





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