Adam Leigh Cann – Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

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

Sergeant Adam L. Cann, 23, of Davie, Florida
Corporal Albert P. Gettings, 27, of New Castle, Pennsylvania
Lance Corporal Ryan S. McCurdy, 20, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Cann was killed in action January 5, 2006, by a suicide bomb attack on an Iraqi police recruitment center in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to Security Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.  During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Gettings and McCurdy died January 5, 2006, from wounds received as a result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Fallujah, Iraq.  Gettings was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.  McCurdy was assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Leigh Cann had known for just four hours that his son Adam was dead when, at 2:30 a.m. Friday, unable to sleep, he started writing.

”I'll miss my boy, for the rest of my life. He was the best; always laughing, always responsible, striving to excel, always loving his family, serving his country,” Cann wrote.

Marine Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq on Thursday, his family said — one of an estimated 58 people killed in the Ramadi bombing. The bomber had infiltrated a line of police recruits in the city north of Baghdad. A second U.S. soldier also died in the attack. Dozens more were wounded. They included Adam's roommate and another friend, his father said.

He doubted they knew yet that Adam was dead.

Adam was 23, just three weeks from his 24th birthday when he died.

Almost 24 hours later, Leigh Cann still couldn't sleep on Friday. He and Adam's stepmother, Carol, who both work at the Florida Department of Transportation offices in Miami, spent the day at home in Davie.

They fielded phone calls all day from friends, family and lawmakers offering condolences. Leigh Cann stopped checking his e-mails. There were too many.

Leigh Cann wore a green and gold sweat shirt for Camp Pendleton, where Adam had been based. A picture of Adam in his Marine uniform hung over one patio door, a picture of Adam's older brother Justin, also a Marine, above the second.

”The minute he walked through door was always like a high school reunion. People just came out of the woodwork,” said Adam's stepbrother, Jason Burnside. “He was quick with a joke, always laughing, quoting movie lines. We miss him.”

Adam joined the military after graduating from South Plantation High School in 2000, Leigh said.

He was on his second Iraqi tour in his second enlistment with the military. He already had served one tour in Afghanistan and another in Iraq.

But he wanted to go back. Adam signed up again, Leigh Cann said.


Adam's second Iraqi tour started near the borders of Jordan and Syria, but Adam asked to be moved deeper into Iraq. Adam wanted to be closer to the action, Leigh Cann said.

Adam served with a K-9 unit used for security, like detecting bombs and narcotics, Leigh said. Adam also was in charge of five other K-9 units spread between five bases, Leigh Cann said.

About six weeks ago he moved to Ramadi, Leigh Cann said.

They talked to him last on Christmas Day. In between calls, Adam sent e-mails. His family followed the news for updates.

In his last message, Adam told his family he wanted to go to a few Miami Dolphins games. Adam loved the Dolphins, taking his posters and other fan gear all the way to Camp Pendleton in California, Leigh Cann said.

Adam's tour was scheduled to end in March.

”It was my greatest fear,” Leigh Cann said. “But I didn't think it was possible.”

 A Marine from South Florida was killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq, his family said.

Marine Sergeant Adam Cann, of Davie, was killed in the attack Thursday in Ramadi, said his father, Leigh Cann.
Fifty-eight people died in the incident in which the bomber infiltrated a line of police recruits. Cann, 23, was one of two U.S. servicemen who died in the bombing, Leigh Cann said.

Adam Cann, a 2000 graduate of South Plantation High School, served with a K-9 security unit and was in charge of five other K-9 units spread across five bases, his father said.

He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq after his second enlistment with the military and had also served in Afghanistan. Cann had earlier been posted near the borders of Syria and Jordan on his current tour, but asked to be assigned deeper inside Iraq, his father told The Miami Herald for a story in Saturday's editions.

Scheduled to return in March when the tour ended, he had looked forward to attending Miami Dolphins games, his father said.

“I'll miss my boy, for the rest of my life. He was the best; always laughing, always responsible, striving to excel, always loving his family, serving his country,” Leigh Cann wrote early Friday after learning of his son's death.

Family mourns heroic son
Marine, 23, died shielding others during attack in Iraq

DAVIE · Leigh and Carol Cann had heard the stories before about Marine deaths in Iraq and the dreaded knock on the door from the men in green uniforms.

It was always someone else's son.

At 10:30 p.m. Thursday, the knock was on the Canns' front door in Davie. This time, it was their Adam.

“I saw the three Marines. I knew that things were real bad,” Leigh Cann said Saturday. “I knew it was Adam.”

His son, Sergeant Adam Cann, was killed by a suicide bomber Thursday in Ramadi, Iraq, a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday, he said. But the circumstances around his death and the act of heroism they said military officials described provided solace.

“Knowing that he made a choice, that was so strong of him,” said Carol Cann, Adam's stepmother. “So much honor.”

Leigh Cann said his son was working security at a police recruiting station where 1,000 Iraqis showed up to join. Early that morning, a suicide bomber with a vest full of explosives walked into the crowd and detonated his deadly payload.

He said military officials told relatives that Adam Cann shielded two fellow Marines and his bomb-sniffing dog, Bruno, saving all three.

Adam Cann didn't look the part of a hero. Standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing only about 150 pounds, he was always smaller than his friends at Plantation High School. But he was fearless and never backed down.

Cann joined the Marines immediately after graduating high school and worked his way up to sergeant with the military police, working with Bruno, a German shepherd.

He volunteered for tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and asked to be in the most dangerous areas, Leigh Cann said.

He even planned to volunteer for a third tour in Iraq when his current mission ended in April.

Maj. Paul Swiergosz, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, said Saturday he could not confirm or deny Cann's death or the circumstances of Thursday's attack. As of Friday, 2,189 U.S. military men and women have died in Iraq since the start of the war, according to the Department of Defense.

Leigh Cann said his son will have a hero's burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

“I think it's the most beautiful place in the world,” he said. “I'm real proud of that.”


A funeral at Arlington National Cemetery will be held next week for a U.S. Marine from Davie killed while serving in Iraq.

Sergeant Adam Cann will be buried Wednesday. The memorial service will start at 11 a.m. at the Arlington Funeral Home. The burial is scheduled for 1 p.m.

A viewing will be held from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. the day before at the funeral home.

Cann was killed January 5, 2006, by a suicide bomber in Ramadi.

Cann grew up in Broward and graduated from South Plantation High School in 2000. He then joined the Marine Corps.

Cann served one tour of duty in Afghanistan and was on his second Iraqi tour when he was killed.

Cann is survived by his father, Leigh Cann of Davie, mother Betsy Beebee of Destin and two brothers — Justin, a Marine stationed in Miramar, Calif., and Leigh Cann Jr. of Destin.

He also had five step-siblings: Emily Taylor, Jason Taylor, Natasha Beebee, Heather Beebee and Jason Burnside.

During the explosion in Ramadi, Iraq, that killed him on January 5, 2006, Sergeant Adam Cann, 23, pushed two fellow Marines to safety, his father Leigh said military officials told him. Adam Cann was assigned to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Camp Pendleton, California.

“Adam would always stand up for any of his friends,” Leigh Cann said. “He always put other people first.”

Still in shock over his son's death, Leigh Cann switched between present and past tense when referring to his son.

“He's a handsome kid, he really is,” he said. “He had the personality to charm anyone. Everybody loved him.”

Adam Cann enlisted in the Marines right after graduating from South Plantation High School in 2000, his father said.

This was his third stint overseas. He was scheduled to come home in March.

The last time Leigh Cann heard from his son was in an e-mail received two days before he died.

“He said he won a bet with his friend that the (Miami) Dolphins would beat the (New England) Patriots,” Leigh Cann said. “He said he couldn't wait until next season. He couldn't wait to tailgate.”

Also eager to see Cann on his return was Michele Palmer, his girlfriend. The last time Palmer talked to Cann she was about to buy a new car. Cann called her from Iraq and convinced her to buy a Chevy.

“I was looking forward to him coming home and seeing it,” Palmer, 26, of Hollywood said.

Palmer said she spoke with Cann everyday by e-mail, the couple had been talking about rekindling their relationship.
“When you meet that special one and you know that's who you will be with in the end, you feel it. We both felt it,” Palmer said. “‘I love you too', those are the last words he said to me.”

Adam Cann will be buried Jan. 18 at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

In addition to his father, Cann is survived by his mother Betsy Beebee, of Destin, and his brothers Justin, 25, a Marine stationed in Miramar, Calif., and Leigh Cann Jr., 20, of Destin.

For Soldier and Marine, Common Ground


In life, Adam Cann and Clinton Upchurch did not know one another. One was from Florida, the other, Kansas. One a Marine, the other Army. In death, however, they will lie forever side-by-side, buried on a moody January day in grave numbers 8309 and 8310 in the section of Arlington National Cemetery reserved for those killed in Iraq.

Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann, a Marine K-9 handler a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday, was killed by a suicide bomber in Ramadi on January 5, 2006, one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He is the first Marine K-9 handler killed in action since the Vietnam War, military officials said.



Kari Upchurch, widow of Army Spec. Clinton R. Upchurch, is escorted to the gravesite during funeral services
at Arlington National Cemetery.

 Army Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, was a Finley County, Kansas, Sheriff's Deputy who joined the military as a private at age 29. He was killed January 7, 2006, in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, when an improvised device exploded near his Humvee and insurgents opened fire.

Upchurch, who was assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was promoted to the rank of Specialist after his death.

Yesterday, a Marine honor guard carried Cann's coffin with stylized movements. Once they reached the grave, they hovered, knees bent, then hoisted the casket high overhead — Marine ritual.

A huge crowd was gathered around the grave. Cann's father, Leigh, stooped to pluck a red rose from a funeral arrangement and sat fingering it throughout the service. “I am proud that you lived, Adam,” Leigh Cann wrote on the Web site, where visitors can honor U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “You are an honorable man and the best person that I ever knew.”

In the crowd, Cann's friend and former Marine “battle buddy” Jason Cannon couldn't shake the feeling that this was all wrong. They had known each other since boot camp in 2001, when Cann was a mere 19-year-old. They had gone through elite K-9 school together, shipped out to Iraq together and, as their names fell one behind the other alphabetically, often wound up together.

Cann made everyone laugh — he could imitate anyone, whether South Park characters or officers. And he was always playing practical jokes, such as pouring Coke or sour milk into someone's combat boots, or waking someone up in the middle of the night, Cannon said. “You were always waiting to laugh, because you knew the next thing out of his mouth was going to be funny,” he said.

And yet Cann was a real Marine's Marine, Cannon said. One night, after they both became Corporals, they went into town near Camp Pendleton, California, to buy beer and celebrate. Another Marine was there, wearing his camouflage — a violation of Marine Corps policy. Cann got in the guy's face, Cannon said. The guy pulled a knife. Cann stayed in his face, saying, “Now you're going to use a knife on me? Go ahead and use it. You're not a Marine, you're not even a man. You know you're in the wrong.”

“To me, I was thinking, it's not worth my life, him buying beer with his cammies, but he was a real Marine,” Cannon said. “He's brave. I'll tell you that.” The Marine was later arrested.

Cann had reenlisted for a second tour in Iraq. He was a military police officer with the Security Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. On the morning of January 5, 2006, he and his German shepherd, Bruno, were in front of the Ramadi Glass and Ceramics Works, where about 1,000 Iraqis lined up for a chance to join the Iraqi police force. Just before 11 a.m., a car overran a security checkpoint, causing panic in the crowd. Minutes later, Cann approached a suspicious-looking man, who then detonated a 40-pound vest of explosives, military officials said.

In the grief-filled days after getting news of Cann's death, Cannon wrote a letter to his friend: “I used to say to you, ‘Cann, you're half the man I am.' But in all honesty, Adam, I only wish I could be half the man you are.”

Two hours before Cann was mourned, a torrential morning rain let up just as a solemn Army honor guard carried Clinton Upchurch's plastic-covered coffin, splashing in double time through the soggy grass, to the grave. Two rows of fresh-faced Army privates and specialists, all looking barely out of high school in their green uniforms and berets, lined up to one side. Three sheriff's deputies, in dress blues and white gloves, snapped photographs.

Army Chaplain Major Claude Brittian led the small group gathered under a rain canopy in reciting “The Lord's Prayer,” as low gray clouds raced on the horizon, car engines left running against the chill rumbled and, in the distance, a yellow backhoe and earthmover noisily dug new graves.

 Upchurch's mother, Cindy, told the Leaf Chronicle newspaper in Clarksville, Tennessee, near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Upchurch was based, that she fought with her son from the time he was 17 to try to dissuade him from joining the military. But she knew he eventually would. His father served in Vietnam and his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans.

Upchurch's widow, Kari, said that serving in the 101st Airborne was his main goal in life. “His service to his country is something he wished for all his life.”

At the end of the funeral, an Arlington Lady, a widow herself, held tightly to each woman's hand and, in turn, kissed each lightly on the forehead.

When the time came to bury Cann, the rain canopy had moved one space over and Upchurch's freshly dug grave was covered with flowers.


A few hours later, a long parade of cars wound through the cemetery following the hearse carrying Cann.



DATE OF BIRTH: 01/25/1982
DATE OF DEATH: 01/05/2006


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