Saturday, June 06, 2009

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Whittle

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Whittle, 20, of Downey, Calif.

LCpl Whittle was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died June 6, 2009 while supporting combat operations in Now Zad, Afghanistan.

Whittier Daily News -- Joshua Whittle would have made a career out of the Marine Corps.

But the 20-year-old lance corporal from Downey was killed Saturday, just three weeks after arriving in Afghanistan.

Whittle's mother, Crystal Matson, said his desire to serve in the Marines sprang from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

"I always wanted him to be a fireman," said Matson, but she said he became a "true-blue Marine."

Whittle received his high school diploma from Columbus Continuation School in Downey on orders from his recruiter and then enlisted as a Marine.

Whittle was based at Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

He was sent to Afghanistan in May and was killed by a land mine three weeks later.

The Department of Defense announced Whittle's death on Tuesday.

Matson said she was out buying a new Marine flag and star for her window when her stepdaughter called to say there was a military man at the door. She knew immediately what had happened.

"I just begged them not to tell me he was dead," Matson said.

"He was an American," said Carl Matson, Whittle's stepfather, who helped raise him. Matson had been in the Army, and when he asked Whittle why he chose the Marines, Whittle responded, "I want the toughest branch."

Matson remembers Whittle as a tough young man, but even as a child he was classy and respectful.

"All he wanted to do was be a Marine," said Crystal Matson, "and he didn't even get to be one for long."

He is survived by his parents and two stepsisters.

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Whittle was killed in action on 6/6/09.

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