Thursday, December 01, 2005

Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Clay

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Clay, 27, of Pensacola, Fla.

SSG Clay was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); killed Dec. 1 by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Fallujah, Iraq. - SSG Clay, a Washington High School graduate, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division.

"Words will never describe accurately the honor, courage and commitment of these fallen Marines and sailors," Col. William Crowe, commanding officer of the 7th Marine Regiment, said in a news release. "Seventh Marine Regiment is deeply saddened by the terrible loss of life of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. These men did not give their lives in vain, and we will not soon forget our fellow brothers."

Clay was born Dec. 12, 1977, in Pensacola. In addition to Washington High School, he also attended Scenic Heights Elementary and Ferry Pass Middle. He joined the Marine Corps in June 1996, shortly after graduating from Washington.

Assigned to his battalion in November 2003, Clay served as a platoon sergeant. He deployed to Iraq with his unit in July.

Clay was a highly decorated Marine during his nine years in the Corps.

His awards include: the Combat Action Ribbon; three awards of the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal; two awards of the Meritorious Unit Commendation; the Navy Unit Commendation; two awards of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; the Expeditionary Medal-Marine Corps; the Korean Defense Service Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; five Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; and the War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Clay's death comes less than two months after the Oct. 23 fatal shooting of Marine Cpl. Jonathan "J.R." Spears, 21, of Molino. Spears was the 2,000th U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, the first from the Pensacola area.

When Spears' uncle, Ed Spears, heard of Clay's death, his thoughts went first to the Clay family.

"We know exactly what they're going through," he said. "It's something you can never be ready for. It's something you never expect to deal with."

Clay resided with his wife, Lisa, in California. His parents, Sara Jo and Bud Clay, reside in Pensacola.

"God bless these fallen heroes," Crowe said. "God bless the families of these wonderful Marines and sailors."

Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Clay was killed in action on 12/01/05.

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