Thursday, November 25, 2010

Marine 1st Lt. William J. Donnelly IV

Remember Our Heroes

Marine 1st Lt. William J. Donnelly IV, 27, of Picayune, Miss.

1st Lt. Donnelly was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Nov. 25, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

Friends and family said Marine Corps 1st Lt. William J. Donnelly IV always wanted to go into the military and fight for his country. He ended up giving his life in combat in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day for that ideal.

"He lived to serve his country, and he refused to just sit on the sidelines," said his sister, Melissa Donnelly Weed.

A release issued by the military base said Donnelly, a 27-year-old infantry officer from Picayune, was killed while conducting dismounted combat operations against enemy forces in the Helmand province Thursday. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

This was Donnelly's first combat deployment, officials said.

Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero said it's always hard to lose a hero and that his city extends its heartfelt condolences to Donnelly's family during their holiday tragedy.

"As a city we will do everything for the family that's within our power to ease this very trying time," he said. "There's never a good time for something like this, and it's even tougher during the holidays."

Donnelly accepted his commission into the Marine Corps June 16, 2008. His personal service awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

The Donnelly family went Saturday to meet the Marine's remains at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del.

Officials from Camp Pendleton also stressed in the release issued Friday that they have lost one of their own family.

"The Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Division mourn the loss of 1st Lt. Donnelly," the release read. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family."

Weed said the loss was not just to the Marines, nor to Donnelly's immediate family, but to everyone he knew.

"Will was the best husband, son, brother, uncle and friend anyone had," said Weed. "He was totally committed to his wife Linsey, his family, his friends and his Marine Corps."

Pinero said Donnelly's sacrifice and that of all the men and women who fall in combat protecting our country's freedom should never be forgotten.

"We are proud of all of our soldiers and we're proud of him for the service he did for his country," Pinero said. "He made the ultimate sacrifice as a citizen of the United States of America."

Weed said her brother was proud to be a Marine and was known by all for his professionalism and caring spirit.

"He was respected by all who knew him and loved by everyone," she said. "He was always there for his family and friends, no matter what time or place. He will be missed by so many."

Marine 1st Lt. William J. Donnelly IV was killed in action on 11/25/10.

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