Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Marine Cpl. Rusty L. Washam

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Rusty L. Washam, 21, of Huntsville, Tenn.

Cpl. Washam was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Feb. 14 when a suicide car bomber attacked his vehicle near Qa'im, Iraq. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Barnes.

WBIR.COM -- Sonny and Beverly Washam were at dinner celebrating Valentine's Day together, when Marines first came with news of their son's death Tuesday night.

Corporal Rusty Washam of Scott County was killed in Iraq Tuesday, hours after family members say they e-mailed back and forth with him.

"I was so hoping when they came last night they'd just tell us he was hurt," Beverly shared Wednesday. "You know, I could deal with that."

The family says they were told Washam was thrown from the Humvee he was driving, when a roadside bomb exploded.

Washam and another Marine were reportedly killed instantly.

"He was just proud," Washam's mother said, holding pictures of her son at the kitchen table. "He was a very proud Marine."

Rusty Washam, the father of two- and three- year old sons, was the youngest of six brothers and sisters.

All grew up in the military, while their father spent 24 years in the Army.

Rusty, who joined the Marines straight out of Scott County High School in 2004, turned 21 in Iraq last Saturday.

"I talked to him Saturday," Beverly explained. "He said everything was quiet, and he was looking forward to coming home. Before he got off, he said 'I love you, Mom.' I told him several times I loved him, and I did. I loved him so much."

Washam was expected home in April, after completing almost back-to-back tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But family and friends gathered in Huntsville once they learned of his sudden death.

Rusty's eldest brother Donnie flew home from Oklahoma, where he is stationed with the Air Force.

Dustin, who followed his father's footsteps into the Army, also came home.

Both trying not to think about what their youngest brother may have gone through.

"The aftermath of the car bombs, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device), I've seen them," Dustin explained. "I know exactly. I can picture in my head what it was."

Dustin came back to the U.S. after he was shot in the foot by friendly fire last summer.

He admits he will likely return to Iraq.

While he's concerned, he's more worried about his parents right now.

"That's the only thing I thought," he said. "I thought of mom and dad when it first happened."

"To lose a child is so hard, it hurts so bad," Beverly Washam said, holding back tears.

Dustin and Donnie Washam hope to escort their brother's body home.

All three boys played football at Scott County High, wearing number 84.

Marine Cpl. Rusty L. Washam was killed in action on 02/14/06.

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