Monday, July 21, 2008

Marine Pfc. Ivan I. Wilson

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Pfc. Ivan I. Wilson, 22, of Clearlake, Calif.

Pfc. Wilson was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died July 21, 2008 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations.

Press Democrat -- Pfc. Ivan Wilson was a bright, patriotic young man for whom joining the Marines was a dream come true, school officials in Lake County recalled Wednesday.

“He told the librarian he really wanted to be a Marine and how he was not afraid to die,” said Lori White, one of Wilson’s teachers at Lower Lake High School, which he attended for more than three years.

Wilson is Lake County’s first casualty in the wars in the Middle East. The 22-year-old was killed Monday during a combat operation in Afghanistan’s Helmand province when he stepped on an explosive device, according to his father, Christopher Wilson of Clearlake.

Helmand province has been the scene of heavy fighting between U.S. and multinational troops battling the Taliban.

“It’s been explosive here,” Ivan Wilson wrote to his mother, Denise Wilson, shortly before he was killed.

“Will tell you all about it when I get back. Well, tell everyone I’m OK,” he wrote.

Christopher Wilson said he is devastated but proud of his son, who completed a tour of duty in Iraq last year.

“He was a strong Marine,” he said.

Wilson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Twentynine Palms, according to the Department of Defense.

He was born in Sonora and raised in Clearlake. He joined the Marine Corps on Sept. 11, 2005, through the recruiting office in Santa Rosa, his father said.

Wilson was intelligent, had a wry sense of humor, and loved spending time in the library, reading and asking questions, White said.

“He thought outside the box,” she said. “I really liked Ivan.”

His favorite genre of books were science fiction, adventure and philosophy, White said.

His favorite sporting activity was wrestling, she said.

At Lower Lake High, Wilson was enrolled in accelerated courses for college-bound students, but he didn’t always turn in his homework and fell behind in credits, White said. He transferred to Clearlake Community School late in his senior year, where he quickly made up the credits so he could graduate and join the Marines, she said.

He graduated from Clearlake Community School in 2004.

“A super-nice kid. He had real focus,” said Dale Krueger, a teacher at the school.

School officials saw that Wilson was serious about graduating and placed him on an accelerated schedule, said Krueger, who also recalled Wilson’s goal was to join the military.

White said she believes joining the Marines combined Wilson’s sense of adventure and patriotism.

His death is a loss not only for those who knew him but for those who may have known him in the future, she said.

“I think he was willing to give back to society beyond the Marines. He would have made a really good citizen,” White said.

Christopher Wilson said funeral arrangements are being planned and are pending the return of his son’s body.

Marine Pfc. Ivan I. Wilson was killed in action on 7/21/08.

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