A 19 year-old Filipino-American arrived in Afghanistan at the beginning of October.  He was killed by the end of November.  He was a Marine from California.


A Marine from Wisconsin crossed his path only after death.  A few days later he wrote home about it:


Dear Mom, Dad and Family:


Just a couple of hours ago I went to an ‘Angel Ceremony' at the flight-line to put a fallen Marine on a plane to go home. He died today from an IED blast. I rounded up a truck full of my junior Marines, not more than 20 years old each of them, and took them with me. It gave them all a little reality check and put things into perspective. Might be cold, long hours, crappy food, cold showers or no showers, away from home on the Holidays - but it can always be worse out here.


But I never really appreciated what Thanksgiving is about like I did today. As the flag covered casket passed in front of me, all I could think about was the family that he has back home. The day before Thanksgiving they're getting this news, and for the next 24-36 hours his body will be flying home. I just hope that his family knows that literally hundreds of Marines, every rank from the 2-star general down to privates showed up and stood at attention on that runway, saluting their son as he was put in the back of that bird to go home. We do it for every single fallen Marine when they leave the country.


This is a crazy job. And it's a crazy world, Korea proved that. Nine years of ‘Angel Ceremonies' in Afghanistan could be done in 9 weeks in Korea. Hope that better alternatives are found. But I know who'd be first on the beach if it came to that - Marines. All volunteers, and most not even old enough to buy a beer. Makes me proud to be a very small part of it.


So anyway, enjoy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the time at home, with family. I just got my reminder today that what we have comes with a price and thought I'd pass it along. There is a family out there that will forever have an empty seat at their table.


And then he concludes his letter.