Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marine Lance Cpl. Kelly E. C. Watters

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Kelly E. C. Watters, 19, of Virginia Beach, Va.

LCpl. Watters was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died June 11, 2008 from wounds sustained while supporting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Washington Post -- A 19-year-old Marine from Virginia Beach has died from wounds suffered during combat in Iraq, the Defense Department announced yesterday.

Lance Cpl. Kelly E.C. Watters died June 11 from wounds he received while fighting in the Anbar Province of Iraq. He was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Watters was serving his second deployment to Iraq, according to Maj. Cliff W. Gilmore, a public affairs officer for the Marine Corps. Gilmore said Watters was wounded May 23 and was flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

"We know that his family was able to be by his side," Gilmore said.

Watters, who joined the Marines in November 2005, first served in Iraq from January to August 2007. His second deployment began in April. He was the recipient of two Purple Hearts and other awards, Gilmore said.

Peter Watters, the marine's father, said last night that based on a conversation he had with one of his son's team leaders, Kelly Watters died from wounds inflicted by a makeshift bomb. His son was patrolling in northern Fallujah, Watters said.

"He was out on the front lines. He happened to be out on the lead," the father said.

A week earlier, Kelly Watters had told his parents he wanted to save up for a new Dodge Charger and sell his truck. He also asked them to send him a care package of Slim Jims and his favorite crackers.

"He liked to live free and on the edge, no regrets," his father said. The younger Watters, a dance music devotee and a movie buff, "hadn't nailed down [his future] yet, anything from being a police officer to a massage therapist."

The Rev. Jeffrey Russell, of the Salem Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, N.C., where Watters's grandparents are members, said congregants prayed for Watters after he was wounded.

"We had a bulletin board where we listed people who are in the military," he said. "His grandparents are doing as well as can be expected. It's quite a difficult thing for anyone to go through, but at the same time they understand the price of freedom."

Watters attended Floyd Kellam High School in Virginia Beach for two years before dropping out in 2005, said Nancy Soscia, the school system's public relations coordinator.

Ryan Benzel, 19, a George Mason University student who attended high school with Watters, recalled that his friend made everyone feel at ease. "Kelly wanted everyone to feel comfortable no matter where they were. He put his friends before himself," Benzel wrote in a Facebook message to a reporter.

Benzel also said that he had worried for Watters. "I remember asking him if he was ever scared while was he over there and he said, 'No,' " Benzel recalled.

Benzel said he told Watters once that he had set his cellphone to play Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." when Watters called. But Watters told Benzel to change it.

The song "reminded him of his fallen 'brothers,' " Benzel wrote. "It's sad because he now has joined them."

Marine Lance Cpl. Kelly E. C. Watters was killed in action on 6/11/08.

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