NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 484-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lance Corporal Kevin A. Lucas, 20, of Greensboro, North Carolina, died May 26, 2006, while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For further information related to this release, contact the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Public Affairs Office at (910) 451-7440.
The flags of the United States and the U.S. Marine Corps are at half-staff on the Lucas family flag pole.
The Memorial Day weekend hits hard this year for the northwest Greensboro couple, who learned Friday that they lost their son to war.
Marine Lance Corporal Kevin Adam Lucas — who went by Adam — was killed during a battle in Iraq.
A Defense Department press release said he died “while conducting combat operations against enemy forces.”
His parents, Kevin and Sandra Lucas, knew few more details Saturday afternoon. They knew their 20-year-old son came under enemy fire and was fatally shot during a security patrol Friday morning.
They knew he would never receive the four care packages already sent his way. Or drive his “baby” — a red Dodge 4×4 pickup parked in their driveway.
But their son was a proud Marine who believed in his mission, and the couple spread that message Saturday without hesitation.
“Yeah, I didn't want to lose my son,” his father said. “He felt strongly about what he was doing. I have to honor and support that.”
Adam Lucas grew up in a family where you had to use the fingers on both hands to count all the relatives with military experience. A wiry kid with a wide smile, Lucas had a black belt in tae kwon do and could take you down quicker than a blink, his father remembered.
With Adam Lucas, it was always the Marines. And when the family moved to Greensboro from Mississippi in 2002, they bought a home in an area that allowed him to attend Northwest High School, which had the only Navy Junior ROTC program at that time, his father said.
After graduating in 2004, Lucas spent nearly two years in the Marines before leaving in March for his first tour in Iraq.
Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, he was stationed at Camp Blue Diamond, a Marine base in Iraq's Al Anbar province.
He called his parents about three times — the last on Mother's Day. He talked about the bad mosquitoes. And how he wanted them to send vitamins and protein drinks. And, of course, the unrelenting hot weather. But he believed in being there.
“Americans need to keep remembering Sept. 11 and quit bickering over the little things,” his father remembered him saying.
He was due back in October and had planned a military wedding with his fiancee at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia in January. Another tour in Iraq awaited him six months later.
His family expected his body to arrive in Dover, Delaware, on Saturday.
His body will be flown to Greensboro for a a memorial service tentatively scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Full details were incomplete Saturday.
On Thursday, plans call for Lucas to be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, something he always wanted, they said.
Sitting in his living room Saturday, Kevin Lucas tried to do his son proud, showing no tears or emotion. Occasionally he would buckle, and his wife, standing nearby, would take over.
The father had agreed to interview after interview Saturday, and his face showed weariness.
At one point, he let out a deep sigh.
“I don't know what else to say.”
Memorial for fallen Marine on Saturday
A memorial service for Marine Lance Corporal Kevin A. Lucas of Greensboro, North Carolina, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Lucas, 20, was killed May 26, 2006, while in combat in Iraq. His remains are scheduled to arrive in Greensboro on Friday afternoon. The service, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Calvary Church at 1655 Pleasant Ridge Road in Greensboro. Arrangements are being handled by Forbis & Dick Guilford Chapel.
Marines from Greensboro will provide military honors during the service, which will also be attended by Marines from Lucas' unit, the Camp Lejeune-based 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
On Tuesday, Lucas will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, P.O. Box 3968, Gaithersburg, MD, 20885-3968 or at www.cfsrf.org. Condolences can be sent through the funeral home at www.forbisanddick.com.
Marine Lance Corporal Kevin Adam Lucas of Greensboro, North Carolina, will be buried Tuesday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Lucas, 20, was killed while on patrol in Anbar province, Iraq.
And in a scene that has become common at funerals for Iraq war dead, picketers will travel across the country to carry signs saying “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags” in protest nearby.
But for the first time, the picketers from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, will be restricted by new legislation that limits protests at national cemeteries. President Bush signed the bill into law last week.
Congregation member Margie Phelps said that the new law won't interfere with the church's message that “America is doomed” for tolerating homosexuals.
“What people haven't grasped is, we don't care what they think,” she said.
The group plans to picket all 122 national cemeteries in upcoming months while abiding by the specific provisions of the law.
Westboro Baptist Church is an independent congregation of roughly 80 members, mostly blood or marriage relatives of 76-year-old pastor Fred Phelps, who founded Westboro in 1955. Margie Phelps is one of Fred's 13 children.
To spread its anti-gay message, the church has held thousands of protests nationwide, citing Old Testament verses to justify its views.
The church first drew national notoriety in 1998 by picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in a hate crime.
But the backlash surrounding the military funeral protests – church members say that the Iraq war is God's punishment for America's sins – is greater than any of the group's previous protests.
At least 27 states have passed or are considering laws to restrict picketing at soldiers' funerals in a direct response to Phelps-led protests. On Memorial Day, Bush signed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act. It bars protests at national cemeteries within 300 feet of a cemetery's entrance and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral.
Those violating the act face up to a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. The federal restrictions were limited to national cemeteries for jurisdictional and legal reasons.
The protests also have spawned a counter-group, the Patriot Guard Riders, which was formed in Kansas to assist grieving families and shield them from protesters. Less than a year old, the group now claims 36,000 members nationwide. Virginia riders will be with the Lucas family on Tuesday, though the organization now coordinates with military funerals regardless of whether they're being picketed.
Said Patriot Guard rider Paul Fischer: “99.9999 percent of the time, the protests are irrelevant. We're there to show respect and honor.”
But the protests' increased attention also has raised the potential for violence. Last month, five people in Delaware were arrested for allegedly scuffling with picketers at a military funeral.
And some of the states' anti-picket laws are being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, which also opposes the federal bill.
Meanwhile, Westboro faces its own legal challenges. A York, Pennsylvania, father of a Marine killed in Iraq last March filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Westboro Baptist, seeking more than $75,000 in damages for alleged privacy intrusion and defamation related to the picketing of his son's funeral.
Margie Phelps called the lawsuit “frivolous.”
She added that the church plans to follow the federal law and keep its distance from the Lucas funeral on Tuesday. Westboro doesn't need civil disobedience to preach – only attention, she said.
And Westboro has no shortage of that, she noted.
“The press, the Patriot Guard and the president are delivering our message in spite of themselves,” she said.
The Marine's father, Kevin Lucas, said that the unwanted controversy wouldn't distract from the service, which follows his son's wishes.
“He said if anything happened to him, that was where he wanted to be buried,” he said.
As for the protesters, he said, “I think every one of them ought to be arrested.”
EDITORIAL NOTE: Amen to Kevin Lucas' comments.
The funeral of Lance Corporal. Kevin Lucas went smoothly at Arlington National Cemetery today, as protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka picketed far from the service and finished their demonstration before the service began.
But the picketers from Pastor Fred Phelps' church said they got the attention they sought, despite new federal restrictions on pickets.
A federal law passed to limit their protests at military funerals “was a feel-good measure that changes nothing,” said Shirley Phelps-Roper, a Phelps daughter. All four picketers were members of the Phelps family.
“That's going to sink in with people, and they're going to be angry,” Phelps-Roper said.
The four picketers, who were stationed outside the main entrance to Arlington National Cemetery, were joined by about a dozen counter-demonstrators, another dozen media members and a line of Washington, D.C. Park Police K-9 unit squad cars.
The protesters were at Arlington to protest Lucas' funeral. Westboro members have been protesting military funerals in recent months, calling the deaths God's retribution for America's acceptance of homosexuality.
The funeral of the 20-year-old Marine killed in Iraq in May was the first military funeral Westboro picketed since new federal restrictions on military funeral protests became law.
Lucas family members did not comment to media at the private ceremony. At no point did family members have to witness the picket, although many who attended the funeral drove past it.
N.C. Marine ‘Wanted to Serve'
Lance Corporal, 20, Was Killed While on Patrol in Iraq
The care packages from family were still en route to Iraq when enemy fire took the life of the intended recipient: Marine Lance Corporal Kevin Adam Lucas.
The 20-year-old from Greensboro, North Carolina, was killed May 26, 2006, while conducting a security patrol in Anbar province, authorities said.
The flag from Lance Corporal Kevin Adam Lucas's coffin is presented to his parents, Sandra and Kevin Lucas,
by Master Sergeant Barry Baker. “He felt strongly about what he was doing,” the Marine's father told the hometown newspaper.
Family members, who learned the news three days before Memorial Day, gathered with other mourners yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery to remember a son, a fellow Marine and a friend.
“Adam at a very young age knew he wanted to serve his country,” Lieuetnant Ron Nordan, a Navy chaplain, told the dozens of people who assembled at graveside to honor Lucas — known to family and friends as “Adam.”
Many bowed their heads, wiping away tears, as a bugler played taps. Marines who were friends of Lucas's assembled behind the family and saluted as a seven-member rifle squad fired three volleys to honor the fallen Marine.
Also attending the service were more than 40 denim and leather-clad members of the Patriot Guard Riders, motorcycle enthusiasts who attend burials of fallen service members to shield grieving families from the intrusion of antiwar protesters.
Although the solemnity of yesterday's service was not broken, protesters from a small, independent Kansas church, Westboro Baptist, stationed themselves outside the cemetery waving placards. In recent months, members of the congregation have stirred anger across the nation, picketing with inflammatory signs at funerals for troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lucas was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
In an interview last week with the Greensboro News-Record, Lucas's parents, Kevin and Sandra Lucas, recalled a proud Marine who was in Iraq to get a job done.
“I didn't want to lose my son,” Kevin Lucas told the paper. “He felt strongly about what he was doing. I have to honor and support that.”
According to news reports, many members of the family have served in the military. Lucas's family moved to Greensboro from Mississippi in 2002. While attending Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, Lucas joined the Navy Junior ROTC.
“He ate, breathed and slept the military,” said David Lambert, who was Lucas's mechanical drafting teacher at Northwest Guilford and was interviewed by phone yesterday. “He was a great kid. He was genuine. There was no pretense about him.”
Lucas enlisted in the Marines after graduation and was deployed in March for his first tour of Iraq. According to the News-Record, Lucas talked to his parents for the last time on Mother's Day. It was hot and the mosquitoes were bad, he told them, but he stood behind the work the Marines were doing there.
Lucas was due to return to the United States in the fall and planned to get married early next year, according to news reports. After his death, a Web page honoring Lucas was put up on the Northwest Guilford High Web site.
“You are the kind of young person that I want in my country,” reads a tribute from Hawk Lindley, who was one of Lucas's ROTC instructors. “Memorial Day will be even sadder from now on. Time moves swiftly and soon I will be called for that last and most holy of quarters for muster. After I account to my God for my life I would like to see you. Please wait for me.”
LUCAS, KEVIN ADAM
LCPL US MARINE CORPS
DATE OF BIRTH: 09/20/1985
DATE OF DEATH: 05/26/2006
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8397
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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