Sunday, June 06, 2010

Marine Cpl. Donald M. Marler

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Donald M. Marler, 22, of St. Louis

Cpl. Marler was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died June 6, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Also killed were Sgt. Brandon C. Bury and Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez.

Cpl. Donald M. Marler, 22, of south St. Louis County, was among three Marines who died in a vehicle crash in Helmand province, in southwestern Afghanistan, according to a Marine spokesman.

1st Lt. Ken Kunze said the three died in what appeared to be a "single-vehicle accident" during combat operations. The incident was still being investigated, he said.

Marler was a 2006 graduate of Oakville High School and has family in the area. Some of them were on the East Coast on Monday to bring his body back for burial.

This was Marler's first combat deployment, Kunze said. Marler was a rifleman and he had been awarded a number of commendations and medals.

Cpl. Donald M. Marler had served in Washington and at Camp David in Maryland. But when he was moved to Camp Pendleton in California, he sought assignment to Afghanistan so he could use his training, said his grandmother, Vallie Marler.

"He was afraid he wasn't going to get to go," she said. "He was over there doing what he wanted to do."

Donald Marler was a 2006 graduate of Oakville High School, and he enjoyed sports including football, basketball, swimming and track, his grandmother said.

Somewhere, he got the idea he wanted to be a Marine, she said. Some in the family worried for his safety, and others suggested other branches.

"No one could talk him out of it," Marler said. "I think he figured that was the most honorable (branch of the military). He was Marine gung-ho."

Marler's brother later followed him into the Marines and recruited some of his high school friends to join up, his grandmother said.

Marler, who was awarded a number of commendations and medals, was a natural leader, she said. She said she often watched a gaggle of grandkids when they were little, and "he was a little leader of the group. He had a very good, bright mind."

Marler's large extended family members are trying to deal with his death as well as they can.

"We're extremely proud of him," Vallie Marler said. "It's just a shame. We're just so broken up."

Marine Cpl. Donald M. Marler was killed in action on 6/6/10.

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