Geofrey Robert Cayer – Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
July 20, 2006

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Corporal Geofrey R. Cayer, 20, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, died July 18, 2006, from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province, Iraq.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

The incident is under investigation.

21 July 2006:

Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer died as the result of a “non-hostile incident,” the Department of Defense confirmed Thursday.

Cayer, 20, of Fitchburg died Tuesday while stationed in Iraq.

The DOD statement didn’t provide further details about the incident, but said it is still under investigation.

“It might’ve been an accident, such as a car accident,” said Corporal Jonathan Santiago, of Camp Pendleton, California, where Cayer was based in the U.S. “It wasn’t a firefight. It wasn’t combat-related.”

The family of the fallen Marine plans to have his casket lie in the auditorium at Fitchburg High School next week to allow for public recognition.

A funeral Mass will follow the next day at St. Joseph’s Parish in Fitchburg.

The family has received permission to bury Cayer at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, according to Chris LeBlanc, a spokesman for the family.

LeBlanc said none of the details are finalized. Cayer’s body will first have to be transported to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, he said.

The family didn’t wish to make another statement Thursday, but was grateful for the “outpouring of support” from the community, LeBlanc said.

“It’s just sinking in to us how important this is to the community,” he said.

People will be allowed to file by the casket at Fitchburg High, and the Northern Central Marine Corps League will perform a ritual to honor Cayer, the first Fitchburg soldier to die in the Iraq war.

Mayor Dan H. Mylott said he doesn’t recall a ceremony of this scale in Fitchburg’s history.

Cayer had served in Iraq since January and would have departed by the end of the month.

The family says he died in Habbaniyah, a large town 50 miles west of Baghdad.

Habbaniyah is located between Ramadi and Fallujah, two cities where the U.S. military has struggled to calm the militant insurgency, according to Jane Arraf, CNN’s senior Baghdad correspondent who is on a leave of absence.

Nicholas Wanner, 20, says he had been friends with Cayer through much of high school.

Wanner is now training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, with the Army National Guard. He says there’s a “good chance” he will be sent to Iraq by the end of the year — especially since he’s an auto mechanic, which is in high demand.

“It’s scary, I can’t lie,” Wanner said during a telephone interview, on a break from training. “It’s hard not to be worried, especially now that I know someone personally who died.”

“You hear stories all the time. But this makes it real.”

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq war remained at 2,554 Thursday, according to the Department of Defense.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is expected to attend next week’s funeral Mass for Marine Lance Corporal Geofrey R. Cayer, the city’s first casualty in the Iraq war.

A wake for Lance Corporal Cayer, 20, will be held at Fitchburg High School with a funeral service the next morning at St. Joseph Church on Woodland Street. The dates for the arrangements had not been finalized as of late yesterday.

The governor is scheduled to pay his respects during the funeral Mass, his spokesman said.

Secretary of Veterans Services Tom Kelley, a Medal of Honor recipient, also is expected to pay his respects during the observances, Fitchburg Commissioner of Veterans Services T.J. Blauser said.

Chris LeBlanc, a close friend of the Cayer family and its spokesman, said the public venue was selected for the wake in response to the outpouring of support from the community.

“People who don’t know us are concerned about Geofrey and want to pay their respects,” Mr. LeBlanc said.

The fallen soldier’s family also has requested that he be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

“His brothers in particular thought it was an honor for Geof,” Mr. LeBlanc said. “We are carrying out those wishes.”

Mr. Blauser said the city’s last death from a theater of war was during Vietnam. The last military funeral in the city was held in 1992, for Marine Lance Corporal Eric A. Rantakyto, 20, who died at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Mr. LeBlanc said the investigation into Lance Corporal Cayer’s death is continuing.

“We know only that Geofrey was killed in a non-hostile incident and it was a gunshot wound,” he said yesterday. “Any speculation further than what has been offered to us as fact is inappropriate.”

Lance Cpl. Cayer was a field radio operator assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton in California.

A news release from the base said Lance Corporal Cayer had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Lance Corporal Cayer is survived by his parents, Robert N. and Joan M. (Saulnier) Cayer, along with two brothers, Charles “Chase” Cayer of Sacramento, Calif., and Alexander “Alex” Cayer of Fitchburg; and one sister, Abbigail “Abby” Cayer of Fitchburg, as well as grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Fitchburg High School in 2004. He completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, in April 2005, his infantry training at Camp Lejeune, NorthCarolina, and received special training in communications at 29 Palms in California before being stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.

Mr. LeBlanc said he joined members of the Cayer family in California over the Christmas holiday to visit with him before his deployment to Iraq.

“We created some wonderful memories,” he said. Lance Corporal Cayer was due to end his tour in Iraq this month.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Lance Cpl. Geofrey R. Cayer Memorial Fund, c/o Beth Slattery, I.C. Federal Credit Union, 300 Bemis Road, Fitchburg, Massachusetts 01420.

Lance Corporal. Geofrey Cayer of Fitchburg, Massachusets, died from a bullet wound, a spokesman for his family said Friday.

Cayer, 20, lost his life Tuesday while serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq.

“We have had an incident report given to us. He died as the result of a bullet wound,” said Chris LeBlanc, a family friend.

But the military has said the 20-year-old didn’t die in combat.

The Department of Defense says Cayer died in a “non-hostile incident,” but hasn’t offered further details.

LeBlanc says the family isn’t guessing how the incident may have happened.

“We know that (the military) is working diligently to provide us with every answer,” LeBlanc said Friday. “In a theater of war, it’s a very difficult process to get a full explanation.”

Cayer served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Pendleton, California.

Cayer would have left Iraq by the end of the month. He lost his life in Habbaniyah, a large town 50 miles outside Baghdad.

A spokesman for Camp Pendleton, Corporal Patrick Carroll, declined to comment on whether the incident involved other soldiers.

Cayer’s death remains under investigation, Carroll said.

His grandparents remembered him Friday as a caring young man who “had his head on straight.”

“I know he did, otherwise he could not have achieved the rank of lance corporal in that short period of time,” said his grandfather, Norman Cayer, of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. “He had a good intellect and knew exactly where he was headed.”

His grandmother, Claire Cayer, also of Mattapoisett, said her grandson was “just thrilled” with entering the Marine Corps.

“He could call his mother every two weeks — and never a complaint,” she said. “The sadness is that he was coming home in a couple weeks. But he liked what he was doing. He was very proud of what he was doing.”

A Marine Corps statement says Cayer was a field radio operator who earned two medals during his term of duty, which began in January.

One of his awards, the National Defense Service Medal, is given for “honorable active service,” according to the Marine Corps.

Cayer also earned the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal for his participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cayer, of 28 Jeffrey Keating Road, is the first Fitchburg soldier to die in the war.

A wake for Cayer will take place in the Fitchburg High School Auditorium next Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m.

A funeral mass will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m., at St. Joseph’s Church, 49 Woodland St., Fitchburg.

Burial will take place an undetermined date in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

There have been 2,559 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since 2003, according to the DOD.

George Barnes Barnestorming
Courtesy of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette
24 July 2006

Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer of Fitchburg was a Marine who grew up in northern Central Massachusetts. His war is now, in a hot, dusty country in the Middle East. My father fought in the often cold hills of Korea, but they both went off voluntarily to serve their country, looking to make a difference, not knowing if they would return home.

Lance Corporal Cayer died last week, leaving behind a grieving family and generations of Marines who know that had it not been for luck or some higher power, they could have been in his place.

The circumstances of Geofrey’s death are not completely clear, but some things are certain. He died serving his country. He was a volunteer, as are all the people serving today. He did not have to sign on with a combat unit, either, and when he went overseas, he went with his eyes open, knowing the branch of the service he was with was often in the thick of the fighting.

You can die many ways in a war zone. There are insurgents in Iraq who look for every opportunity to kill American soldiers. They are not looking to win over land or even win battles. They are just looking to kill soldiers.

You can get killed in an accident as well. There are motor vehicle and other types of accidents over there all the time.

There are also suicides and murders.

But no matter what the circumstances, because the circumstances in the long run do not matter, the end result is that someone’s kid, in this case a kid from Fitchburg, is lost in war. Lost with him is a bundle of potential, of dreams, of hopes, lost because he chose to serve his country, to go overseas with the Marines, looking to be a part of the solution to a seemingly endless war tearing Iraq apart.

It will take more than a lifetime to explain to the family of Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer why he had to be the one who died in Iraq. It may take longer than that, because for every Marine who dies over there, many more return home.

It doesn’t seem fair to the families of the casualties. It doesn’t seem fair to their friends and it is confusing to Marines who survive, wondering why they, and not their friends, lived.

No adequate explanation will be heard at his wake tomorrow in the auditorium in Fitchburg High School or the following morning at a service in St. Joseph’s Church in Fitchburg memorializing the young Marine.

No adequate explanation will be given when he is later buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The only thing that will be clear is that he died serving his country, fighting in a war that has taken several terrible twists and too many good lives and that he left behind people who loved him and who will keep his memory with them as long as they live.

25 July 2006:

A large number of people are expected to attend today’s wake for Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer, a 20-year-old Fitchburg,Massachusetts, Marine who died last week while serving in Iraq.

The wake will take place at the Fitchburg High School auditorium from 3 to 7 p.m.

Those who attend may acknowledge the family, but the family wishes to keep people flowing through the auditorium, said Chris LeBlanc, a family friend.

There will be a short pause every 15 minutes so the Marine Honor Guard can change members, LeBlanc said.

There will also be a brief ritual performed by the Marine Corps League for five minutes at some point during the wake, he said.

A funeral mass will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in St. Joseph’s Church, 49 Woodland St., Fitchburg.

Burial will take place on August 2, 2006 in Arlington National Cemetery.

27 July 2006:

Family and friends gathered in Fitchburg Wednesday to honor a fallen Marine. Lance Cpl. Geofrey Cayer was killed last week in Iraq.

Many of the mourners knew Cayer as a classmate and friend. The 20-year-old graduated from Fitchburg High School in 2004, and joined the Marines a short time later.

“We can’t thank the exFITCHBURG — Geofrey Cayer was the “most unique and wonderful person” in the world, his younger brother Alex said Wednesday.

“He would’ve been a great husband, uncle, father and grandfather,” 18-year-old Alex Cayer said, while giving the eulogy at his brother’s funeral.

Lance Corporal Cayer, 20, died on July 18, 2006, while serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq.

He is the first Fitchburg soldier to die in Iraq.

More than 300 mourners packed every pew at St. Joseph’s Parish, 49 Woodland St., for the 90-minute funeral Mass Wednesday.

Governor Mitt Romney and numerous local officials attended the ceremony.

Six Marines brought Cayer’s casket into the high-arched sanctuary, where Cayer had attended church for much of his life.

Prayers spoken during the ceremony focused on the Christian vision of life continuing after death.

Father Thomas Sickler said he hopes people take comfort that Cayer is now with Jesus Christ in heaven.

“Anyone who believes in him will never die, but will go to a place that is better, a place of never-ending joy,” Sickler said.

Sickler thanked the fallen Marine for sacrificing himself to help secure a better world.

Cayer died from a bullet wound in a non-combat situation, but military authorities haven’t released further details.

Cayer graduated from basic training in April 2005, and began his tour with the Marines in Iraq last January.

But he wasn’t always such a disciplined young man, his brother Alex said in his eulogy.

As a youngster, Geofrey Cayer and his best friend, Matt Moran, once thought a neighbor’s garage would “look better” without all its siding.

The two peeled off all the siding, Alex Cayer fondly recalled. Later, after getting in trouble, they had to pool all their savings to replace it.

“I guess $5.80 was enough,” Alex Cayer said with a smile.

People’s first impression was often that Geofrey Cayer was shy, but “this could not have been further from the truth,” Alex Cayer said.

“He had a sharp wit,” Alex Cayer said. “He could bring ease and humor to any situation.”

Geofrey Cayer would grow to develop a refined cultural taste, adoring literary works such as “The Divine Comedy” and films such as “The French Connection,” his brother recalled.

The proudest moment of his life was graduating from basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina, Alex Cayer said.

He had dreamt of becoming a Marine since childhood, his brother said.

Though the death leaves a void, Alex Cayer said he knows his brother is safe in heaven.

The crowd broke into spontaneous applause after the eulogy.

Attendees clapped again after hearing a resounding version of “Bring Him Home” from the musical “Les Miserables,” sung by longtime family friend Chris LeBlanc and accompanied on the harp by former Fitchburg City Councilor Rosemary Reynolds.

The six Marines rolled the casket out to the church foyer, where a group of family members and officials had assembled.

Two Marines covered the casket with an American flag while the others held their hand in salute to their fallen comrade.

Flags will remain at half-staff until Monday, according to Mayor Dan H. Mylott.

Burial for Cayer will take place next Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

tended community here in Fitchburg and around the state enough for supporting the family,” said family friend Christopher LeBlanc.

Current and retired Marines attended the funeral service. Governor Mitt Romney also came to pay respects to the first serviceman to die from Fitchburg in the Iraq war.

“Unfortunately before this, Iraq was over there and now it has hit home in Fitchburg and it affects us,” said the Rev. Tom Sickler, of St. Joseph Church.

Cayer was killed last week while on duty in Iraq. So far, the Marines have only said he died of a gunshot wound during a non-hostile event. Cayer’s death remains under investigation.

The family friend and others described Cayer as quiet, but quick with a laugh.

“You always knew when Geofrey was around that there was a smile pending, it was coming and it was going to be great. We are going to remember that smile forever,” LeBlanc said.

Cayer’s mother is a teacher and his father is a former Marine. At the service, Cayer’s brother, Chas, carried the Marine’s dress hat, brother Alex gave the eulogy and sister Abby accepted condolences from the bishop.

Cayer will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Courtesy of Sentinel And Enterprise
3 August 2006:

It was a celebration poem, written to welcome a best friend home from the war. It looks forward to the time that a young Marine can sit “for a while and share a smile.”

Instead the poem served as a final farewell.

Marine Corps Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer, 20, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, died on July 18, 2006, killed by a gunshot in an incident military officials have called “non-hostile.”

Matthew Moran, 20, read the poem at Cayer’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday. Moran wrote it six weeks before the death of Cayer, his best friend.

“It wasn’t meant to be used in this respect,” Moran said of the poem after the funeral. “But he did come home, it was his homecoming.”

Earlier, as six marines stood rigid, holding an American flag over Cayer’s casket, Moran cried as he finished reciting the poem’s final verse.

“Stay and sit for me for a while and share a smile,” it says.

Days before Cayer died, he called home with happy news: His redeployment stateside would come two days early, said Chris LeBlanc, a close friend of the family. His parents, Robert and Joan, missed his call, so he left a message.

“We’ve got the message on the machine that we can play 100,000 times,” LeBlanc said. “We can hear the anticipation in his voice. It’s nice.”

Arlington cemetery is just across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital. It is a place where the family, split between Massachusetts and Virginia, can visit Cayer’s grave in perpetuity.

Military officials have not released details about how Cayer died.

The Cayers are willing to be patient as an ongoing investigation continues into their son’s death, LeBlanc said.

“It’s very hard to understand what happened on the ground. We have to be patient with that,” he said of the investigation. “We’re dealing with the inconclusiveness.”

Cayer’s place amid the rolling hills in Arlington is on the edge of a thousand or more white headstones, contained by quiet, internal roads and surrounded by 300,000 other burial sites on the sprawling grounds dotted with old trees.

He is the 255th American killed in Iraq to be buried there. He is the first Fitchburg native to die in the Iraq war.

After seven marines each fired three shots into the air, and a singular marine breathed a rendition of Taps into his trumpet, Master Sergeant Barry Baker of the 8th and I Marine Barracks knelt in his white pants to solemnly hand Joan Cayer the American flag that had draped her son’s casket.

He stood and saluted her. She saluted back.

Slowly, Massachusetts’ two Democratic senators approached the casket, on which they placed white roses. Senator Edward Kennedy went first, followed by Senator John Kerry. Both of them made the sign of the cross.

“Stories like this break your heart — so young, so brave, so dedicated and so close to coming home,” Kerry said in a statement afterward.

Joan Cayer, mother of Marine Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer receives an American flag during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery

Tributes to Sacrifice, Dedication
Soldier, Marine Fatally Wounded in Iraq Are Laid to Rest
By Arianne Aryanpur
Courtesy of the Washington Post Staff Writer
August 3, 2006

A motorcade led the funeral procession for Corporal Matt Wallace at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Six uniformed men carried Wallace’s black coffin to a gravesite in Section 60, where service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are laid to rest.

During the service, Army chaplain Lane Creamer spoke solemnly of sacrifice: “For the soldier, it is always duty, honor, country.” Soldiers then fired a three-volley salute while a bugler stood among the rows of white headstones and played taps.

It was a fitting end for a man who wanted nothing more than to be a “soldier man” his whole life.

Wallace, 22, of St. Mary’s County, died July 21, 2006, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany of burns sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad on July 16, 2006.

He was assigned to the Army’s 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

As a child growing up in St. Mary’s County, Wallace played with empty toilet paper rolls and clothes hangers, pretending they were toy guns. Family members said he went through a “self-discovery phase” and dropped out of Great Mills High School after his sophomore year. In 2001, he earned a General Educational Development diploma, and he joined the Army in 2004.

Wallace was 5 feet 10 inches tall and 135 pounds of “pure muscle,” his sister Abigail said. He played soccer and dabbled in karate. In Iraq, he trained on every weapons system possible, becoming a highly skilled soldier, she said.

Wallace’s mother, Mary, said he sounded weary the last time they spoke on the phone. “They were just working and working with little relief,” she said. But that was where he wanted to be, she added, her voice perking up. “He felt like he was doing what God thought he should do.”

Wallace is also survived by his father, Keith, and siblings Jessica and Micah.

A light breeze blew through the cemetery about 3 p.m. yesterday when mourners gathered at a gravesite next to Wallace’s to honor Marine Lance Corporal Geofrey Robert Cayer. The crowd included U.S. Senators John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who went to pay respects to the man from Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Military officials said Cayer, 20, died July 18,2006, in a nonhostile incident in Iraq’s Anbar province. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California.

Cayer graduated from Fitchburg High School in 2004, where he played football and tennis. Principal Richard Masciarelli remembered him as focused and quiet. But when Cayer returned to visit the school after basic training, he appeared to be a different person, Masciarelli said. “He had really come into his own and was confident in himself as a young man,” he said.

Friends recalled Cayer as a great observer with a dry wit. “He always found humor in the oddest places,” said Chris LeBlanc, a family friend. “He would watch everything going on, and just when you were least expecting it, he’d say something funny.”

Those who knew Cayer spoke of a characteristic resolve. “He was there to do a job, and he took it very seriously,” LeBlanc said. “He was so happy to be a Marine.”

Cayer was scheduled to return from Iraq this month, according to news reports.

When Cayer’s service ended, Kerry and Kennedy offered condolences to his parents, Joan and Robert, and siblings, Charles, Alex and Abbigail.

Kerry placed a bouquet of white flowers on Cayer’s coffin and made the sign of the cross before walking back to his car, past the long rows of tombstones at Section 60.

Wallace and Cayer are the 254th and 255th service members killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

7 August 2006:

The family of Marine Lance Corporal Geofrey R. Cayer may never know the full circumstances surrounding his death in Iraq on July 18, 2006, a family spokesman said Saturday, but they are confident a full investigation is under way.

“It appears it may just have been a freak accident,” Christopher LeBlanc, a longtime family friend, said in an interview Saturday.

Lance Corporal Cayer, 20, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Wednesday, a week after hundreds of mourners paid their respects at St. Joseph’s Church to the family of the city’s first casualty of the war in Iraq.

The Marine Corps has said he was killed in a non-hostile incident July 18, 2006, while no other official details have been released. An investigation into the circumstances of the death is continuing.

“Geofrey’s parents are determined to allow the process to continue without making it anything adversarial,” Mr. LeBlanc said. “We’ve been very, very satisfied with the kind of attention, the kind of fairness we’ve been shown.”

Joan and Robert Cayer were overwhelmed by the support shown by the community, from the hundreds who attended the wake at Fitchburg High School to the crowd the next morning at St. Joseph’s, Mr. LeBlanc said.

The trip to Virginia gave the Cayer family the opportunity to speak with Lance Corporal Cayer’s Master Sergeant, who was on the ground in Iraq when the 20-year-old was killed by a gunshot July 18, 2006.

“We don’t have any more answers than we had previously,” Mr. LeBlanc said.

The Master Sergeant told the Cayers he did not witness the shooting, but said Lance Corporal Cayer was a proficient soldier who had been on post when the fatal injury was inflicted.

While the family was buoyed by the master sergeant’s determination to get to the bottom of what happened that day, Mr. LeBlanc said it may be difficult to know for sure.

“There’s a possibility it could remain undetermined,” Mr. LeBlanc said.

The Sergeant told the Cayers that in the hazardous environment where Lance Corporal Cayer was that day, his finger would have been on the trigger of his weapon almost constantly. An accidental discharge is a possibility, he said.

The Cayers, joined by Lance Corporal Cayer’s best friend Matthew Moran and Mr. LeBlanc, spent 20 minutes with U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy and U.S. Senator John F. Kerry before the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr. Kennedy had called the family before the funeral, Mr. LeBlanc said, and was on the same plane as the Cayers when they made the trip from Boston to Washington.

The fallen soldier was buried alongside more than 200 others killed in Iraq.

Mr. and Mrs. Cayer plan to attend a memorial ceremony August 18, 2006, at Camp Pendleton in California, where the seven fallen members of their son’s battalion will be honored.

The last of Lance Corporal Cayer’s battalion returned home from Iraq on Saturday, Mr. LeBlanc said.

As the family has journeyed through its grief in the past weeks, he added, talk has never turned to the topic of the war in Iraq and its toll.

“There has been absolutely no discussion with regard to those issues,” Mr. LeBlanc said Saturday, “because that’s not the tone that Geofrey set.”

The war was on when Geofrey Cayer enlisted in the Marine Corps, Mr. LeBlanc said, and he was committed to his course of public service. It is one of the many positive traits they will always remember about him, he said.

Area marine’s family looking for answers
By Kyle Alspach
15 August 2006

The parents of Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer will travel to his former Marine base this week, where they hope to find out how their son died while serving in Iraq.


Cayer, 20, of Fitchburg,Massachusetts, died from a gunshot nearly one month ago, but family members have yet to receive a full explanation.

A family friend, Chris LeBlanc, said several family members will travel to Camp Pendleton, California, where they will attend a joint memorial service for Cayer and six other fallen Marines.

The family plans to sit down with a company commander during the visit, LeBlanc said.

“Hopefully while they are there, they will get a little bit more definition as to what happened,” he said.

Cayer was the first Fitchburg solider to die while serving in Iraq, but few details have emerged about his death.

Cayer died from a bullet wound in a non-combat situation, according to a report provided to the family.

But the report did not detail who was responsible for the fatal gunshot.

The U.S. Department of Defense has said only that the death involved a “non-hostile incident” and is under investigation.

The incident occurred in Anbar, a volatile province west of Baghdad, on the morning of July 18, 2006.

Cayer’s parents, Robert and Joan, and siblings will leave for California on Wednesday, LeBlanc said.

Camp Pendleton will hold a memorial service on Friday for Marines who have died while serving as members of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Iraq.

Cayer would have returned with that unit at the end of July.

“The unit has fully returned,” said Marine Corps Captain Amy Malugani. “Once everybody has been back for a few weeks, we do a memorial service for the Marines who were lost.”

Cayer was one of seven Marines from the unit to die in Iraq during the most recent deployment, LeBlanc said.

He was the only Marine from his company, Kilo Company, to lose his life, LeBlanc noted.

“The family is hoping to get as definitive (an explanation) as possible,” LeBlanc said.

Cayer was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, on August 2, 2006.

He was a graduate of Fitchburg High School who had lived with his parents at 28 Jeffrey Keating Road.

Cayer joined the Marine Corps in January 2005, and began serving in Iraq in January of this year.

There had been 2,596 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq as of Monday, according to the Department of Defense.

15 June 2007:

A Fitchburg, Massachusetts, park will be dedicated Friday to a Marine who was killed in Iraq last year.

Lance Corporal Geofrey Cayer was killed on July 18. He was laid to rest with full military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Officials will dedicate the Geofrey Cayer Memorial Park at 2 Boulder Drive. at noon. Cayer was born in 1986 in San Juan Puerto Rico. He moved to Fitchburg as an infant and was a resident of the city until he entered the United States Marine Corps in January 2005.

Cayer graduated from Parris Island Marine Recruit Training Center in April 2005, where he received infantry and communications training before being stationed at Camp Pendleton in California.

Cayer’s parents said that he always had a positive attitude toward his time in Iraq and his duties as a Marine.

Cayer was a graduate of the Julie Country Day School in Leominster of the Fitchburg High School class of 2004.












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