NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
June 18, 2005
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lance Corporal Erik R. Heldt, 26, of Hermann, Missouri
Captain John W. Maloney, 36, of Chicopee, Massachusetts
Both Marines died June 16, 2005, when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Ar Ramadi, Iraq. They were assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. During Operation Iraqi Freedom their unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
In Marines, and in life, they were brothers
Chicopee family mourns as oldest of 3 dies in Iraq
By Heather Allen and James Vaznis,
Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff
Courtesy of the Boston Globe
20 June 2005
CHICOPEE, MASSACHUSTTS – A 36-year-old Marine from a local family devoted to the military died in Iraq last week after a homemade bomb struck a vehicle he was riding in, making him the third service member from Massachusetts killed this month in the conflicts.
The blast killed John Maloney, the father of two, and Lance Corporal Erik Heldt, 26, of Hermann, Missouri. They were returning from a combat mission near Ar Ramadi.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. John W. Maloney, commander of Company C, 1st
Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, communicates with his fellow Marines on his
radio as a truck carrying a sea container full of medical supplies heads towards
the entrance of the Maternity and Children’s Hospital, Ar Ramadi, Iraq, May 17, 2005.
The U.S. Marines and soldiers delivered four sea containers of medical supplies
valued at more than $500,000 to the hospital. The supplies ranged from heart
monitors and antibiotics to new bed sheets and bandages.
Maloney was the eldest of three sons — all of them Marines — and was like a father figure to his younger brothers, relatives said. He enlisted in the Marines two months after he turned 18 and his brothers followed his lead. His youngest brother also has been serving in the Middle East.
Outside the family's green shingled house yesterday, a large, red Marine flag hung from the front porch along with several yellow ribbons and miniature American flags. Inside the house, nearly a dozen figurines of Marines decorated a doorway in the living room — a room that featured framed pictures of all three brothers in their uniforms.
Maloney's youngest brother, Justin Clark, 23, a Lance Corporal in the Marine Reserves who flew back from the Quantico, Virginia, Friday, said death is the reality of being a Marine. He said he believed his brother had no regrets about the life he led.
”Not many people are fortunate enough to have that type of life,” said Clark. ”He always did his best to help us out. At a drop of the hat, he would be there for us. He lived a great life.”
The other brother, Jason, is en route from Japan and is expected in time for his brother's funeral, which will probably be held next week. The family would like to have him buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
With three sons in the Marines, Lydia Maloney said the thought always lingered in the back of her mind that one of them might die. Then came the knock on the door early Friday, and the news that the war had taken her eldest son. The moment, she said, will always be ingrained in her memory.
”He took great pride in his men,” she said, rubbing her hands back and forth as she spoke. ”He understood what his job was as a Marine.”
John Maloney arrived in Iraq during the first week in March.
Clark said he wondered what the loss of his brother would mean for Maloney's 6-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter Lydia Maloney said she never had to ask her oldest son to help out. He naturally took to the role as a father figure when she and the boy's father divorced. John Maloney was 8 at the time.
”We didn't have a life of riches at that time,” she said. ”He was the voice of reason. If someone got excited, he would take out the mental tape measure and say ‘Is it worth it?' He was just a dream.”
Maloney's passion for the Marines, she said, blossomed out of an interest in studying the Vietnam War at Chicopee High School, from which he graduated in 1986. As a Marine, she said, her son never lost his natural tendency to take care of people and make them laugh.
”It's chilling to know you have held this person who has touched so many people,” she said. ”He could walk into a room and create a presence.”
Maloney fought during the first Gulf War and served in Somalia. He met his wife, Michelle, while stationed in California. Maloney, who had been in the lead vehicle in the convoy when he was hit, is the third service member from Massachusetts to die of combat-related injuries this month.
Green Beret Staff Sergeant Christopher N. Piper, 43, of Marblehead, died on Thursday of injuries sustained in Afghanistan on June 3, 2005. Army National Guard Specialists Michael J. Kelley of Scituate, 26, died June 8, 2005, during a mortar attack on his base in Afghanistan.
At least 33 Massachusetts natives have died in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Maloney's mother's eyes filled with tears as she thought of her three sons' commitment to the military and their lives growing up together.
”I'm proud of the three of them,” she said. ”They held themselves together.”
By joining the Marines, Clark said, the three brothers only expanded their brotherhood.
”We're not just looking out for the three of us, but our other brothers right next to us,” he said. Reflecting on his brother's service, he added, ”Marines like him make sure other Marines come home and keep the country safe.”
January 20, 2006
Posthumous Honor for Mission of Mercy
By Tony Perry
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
Last spring, Marine Captain John Maloney led his Marines on a mission of mercy through the dangerous streets of Ramadi in Iraq to bring medical supplies to a struggling hospital.
Maloney's Marines and a squad of Army soldiers guided a slow-moving convoy through streets infested with insurgent snipers and hidden bombs to deliver more than $500,000 worth of badly needed supplies — bandages, bedsheets, heart monitors, antibiotics, incubators and more — to the Ramadi Maternity and Children's Hospital.
Maloney told a military reporter that he hoped the mission would “show the Iraqi people that the Marines mean well.”
Just days later Maloney, 36, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, and Lance Corporal Erik Heldt, 26, of Hermann, Missouri, were killed when their Humvee hit an improvised explosive device. Three other Marines in the vehicle were badly burned.
Today, Maloney's widow, Michelle, received the Bronze Star with V for Valor, awarded to her husband posthumously for his leadership during 109 days of frequent fighting with heavily armed insurgents.
Lieutenant Colonel Eric Smith, the battalion commander, pinned the brightly colored medal on the couple's son, Nathaniel, 6, while their daughter, McKenna, 2, looked on.
“He's had a hard time understanding why all the other daddies came home and his didn't,” said the boy's grandmother, Linda Keil of Simi Valley. “But he's proud of his daddy and he knows he gave his life for something he believed in.”
Maloney enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 18 and served in the Persian Gulf War and Somalia. He attended Colorado University, became an officer, and was commanding officer of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division when he was killed.
When the bomb exploded beneath the vehicle that morning in June, Maloney and Heldt became the 23rd and 24th members of the “one-five” to die in Iraq.
They were returning from a patrol when their convoy was attacked. Maloney ordered his Humvee, the lead vehicle in the convoy, to take a blocking position to keep the insurgents from reaching the main part of the force.
By slowing the insurgents, Maloney allowed his Marines to position themselves for what turned out to be a two-hour firefight before the insurgents were routed.
“Because of what he did over there, I brought 150 Marines home,” said Charlie Company FIrst Sergeant Michael Brookman. “He'll be with me the rest of my life.”
Three more Marines were killed before the battalion returned from its third tour in Iraq in October. Thirty-eight Marines in the 195-man Charlie Company have received Purple Hearts.
After the ceremony that was held beneath tall shade trees with green hills in the background, Marines from Charlie Company offered their condolences to Michelle Maloney and other family members.
Michelle Maloney chose not to speak to reporters, but when her husband was buried at Arlington National Cemetery last year, she issued a statement about him:
“He was fun and silly and had such dreams for his children and our lives together. They were his life and he will always be ours.”
The award ceremony on the sprawling base was held at a memorial garden dedicated to Marines from the 5th Regiment who have died in combat.
Stone markers note battles where Marines from the regiment have died, including Belleau Wood from World War I, Guadalcanal in World War II, the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, Hue City in Vietnam, Kuwait, and now, Iraq.
“Ramadi is a tough place,” Brookman said, “and it's even tougher to be a company commander there.”
Minutes after a Bronze Star Medal with Valor was pinned on the shirt of the young son of a Marine captain and company commander killed last year in Ramadi, Iraq, First Sergeant Michael Brookman stooped and delivered a message to the boy.
“Your father is a hero,” Brookman told 6-year-old Nathaniel Maloney, son of Captain John W. Maloney. “Don't ever forget it.”
Brookman's message was delivered during an award ceremony Friday afternoon at the base's Camp San Mateo, the home of Marines from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
Marine Lieutenant Colonel Eric M. Smith presents the Bronze Star to 6-year-old Nathanial
Maloney, whose father Marine Captain John Maloney was killed in Iraq last
year as his mother, Michelle Maloney, looks on at a ceremony held at the Memorial
Garden on Camp Pendleton Friday
The fallen Marine died in Ramadi on June 16, 2005. He was leading a patrol when his truck was blown up by a roadside bomb.
For Brookman and members of his unit known as the 1/5s Charlie Company, Maloney's death hit hard because of the respect he had earned through what several said were his caring ways and leadership.
“Marines know that people like him are special,” Brookman said after the outdoor ceremony at San Mateo Memorial Park. “We respected Capt. Maloney and losing him was a big loss for the entire company.”
Maloney, 36, had been featured last spring in a Marine Corps-written story that told of how he and his troops had taken extra steps to keep a Ramadi hospital stocked with medications and supplies.
In a quote from that story, the native of Chicopee, Mass., said the hospital effort “shows the Iraqi people that the Marines mean well.”
One month later, Maloney died.
Lieutenant Colonel Eric Smith said Friday's event was intended as a celebration of Maloney's life and his heroism in leading numerous patrols and directing his Marines during several firefights in Ramadi. Earlier memorials took place in Iraq, at Camp Pendleton and at Arlington National Cemetery.
“This is an award which he earned,” Smith said. “John Maloney did valorous things in Ramadi and this is an opportunity to remember those acts. Ramadi is a tough place and it's even tougher to be a platoon commander out there.”
In a citation accompanying the Bronze Star, Maloney was recognized for “heroic achievement as the commanding officer of Charlie Company.”
He had led the company while in Iraq from March until his death. On March 18, he had a close call when another roadside bomb was detonated while on patrol.
About a dozen family members attended Friday's ceremony at the memorial park, which is surrounded by markers of legendary Marine battles around the world. The most recent addition includes an arrow pointing east and reads “Baghdad 2003, 7701 miles.”
Maloney's widow, Michelle, did not speak to reporters at the ceremony. But some of the dozen other family members did, including his brother-in-law, Mike Keil of Simi Valley.
“I don't know if there will ever be closure,” he said. “But it's an honor for his son to know that his dad did not die in vain.”
One of the Marines he had led, Lance Corporal Brandon Phillips, said Maloney stood out as a commander.
“He was an officer who really looked out for all the young guys like me,” said Phillips, who returned to Camp Pendleton in October. “He helped us out, and in Ramadi, he always showed how much he cared about us.”
Brookman, who called Maloney his best friend, said he will carry his memory with him for the rest of his life.
“Because of what he did there, I was able to bring 150 Marines home.”
Maloney is survived by his wife and son, as well as a young daughter, McKenna.
As the ceremony was taking place, about 250 members of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were preparing to say goodbye to their loved ones as they headed for the Anbar province of Iraq for a seven-month deployment.
Originally published January 21, 2006:
Lsst spring Captain John Maloney led his Marines on a mission of mercy through the dangerous streets of Ramadi, Iraq, to take medical supplies to a struggling hospital.
Maloney's Marines and a squad of Army soldiers guided a slow-moving convoy through streets infested with snipers and hidden bombs to deliver more than $500,000 worth of supplies — bandages, bedsheets, heart monitors, antibiotics, incubators and more — to the Ramadi Maternity and Children's Hospital.
Maloney told a military reporter that he hoped the heavily guarded mission would “show the Iraqi people that the Marines mean well.” It was completed without trouble.
But just days later, Maloney, 36, and Lance Corporal Erik Heldt, 26, were killed when their Humvee struck an improvised explosive device. Three other enlisted Marines were badly burned.\
On Friday, in a ceremony at the sprawling Marine base here, Maloney's widow, Michelle, received the Bronze Star with V for Valor, awarded posthumously to her husband for his leadership during 109 days of combat against heavily armed insurgents.
Lt. Col. Eric Smith, the battalion commander, pinned the brightly colored medal on the couple's son, Nathaniel, 6, while their daughter, McKenna, 2, looked on.
“He's had a hard time understanding why all the other daddies came home and his didn't,” said the boy's grandmother, Linda Keil of Simi Valley. “But he's proud of his daddy, and he knows he gave his life for something he believed in.”
Maloney, of Chicopee, Mass., enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 18 and served in the Persian Gulf War and Somalia. He attended the University of Colorado, became an officer and was commanding officer of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division when he was killed.
When the bomb exploded that June morning, Maloney and Heldt became the 23rd and 24th members of the One-Five — as it is known — to die in Iraq.
Maloney and Heldt, originally from Hermann, Mo., were returning from a patrol when their convoy was attacked. Maloney ordered his Humvee, the lead vehicle, to take a blocking position to keep the insurgents from reaching the main part of the force.
By slowing the insurgents, Maloney allowed his Marines to position themselves for what turned out to be a two-hour firefight that routed the enemy.
“Because of what he did over there, I brought 150 Marines home,” said Charlie Company 1st Sgt. Michael Brookman. “He'll be with me the rest of my life.”
Three more One-Five Marines were killed before the battalion returned from its third tour in Iraq in October. Thirty-eight Marines in Charlie Company received Purple Hearts.
After the ceremony, held beneath tall shade trees with green hills in the background, Marines from Charlie Company offered their condolences to Michelle Maloney and other family members.
Maloney chose not to speak to reporters, but when her husband was buried at Arlington National Cemetery last year, she issued a statement about him:
“He was fun and silly and had such dreams for his children and our lives together. They were his life, and he will always be ours.”
The Camp Pendleton ceremony was held in a memorial garden dedicated to Marines from the 5th Regiment who have died in combat.
Stone markers note the battles, including Belleau Wood in World War I; Guadalcanal in World War II; the Chosin Reservoir in Korea; Hue City in Vietnam; Kuwait; and now Iraq.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard