Thursday, June 09, 2011

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas S. O'Brien

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas S. O'Brien, 21, of Stanley, N.C.

LCpl O'Brien was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., died June 9, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

Lcpl O’Brien graduated East Gaston High School in 2008, where he was centerfielder for baseball team and played soccer. He was named Defensive Player of the year in his junior and senior years. He earned his school's Math Award during his junior year.

Lcpl O’Brien joined the Marines in Fall of 2009, following in the footsteps of his father, a Marine veteran, and his grandfather, a Navy veteran. He intended to serve his four or five year enlistment and go to college to become a firefighter, like his uncle, a Charlotte firefighter.

This was Lcpl O'Brien's first deployment. He had just turned 21 years old, two weeks prior.

His father, Richard, said his son was a talented high school baseball player who was offered college scholarships to continue playing. "He had a lot of choices in front of him. Nic made his mind up when he was about 15 years old that he was going into the Marine Corps, come hell or high water."

High school coach, Brian Sellers said “I knew when it came time to play, Nic was going to give me all he had,” said Sellers. “You never had to worry about his desire to win or play hard. He was going to leave everything on the field.”

“Our best memories of him were based on his ability to make anyone laugh at any given time,” said Johnson. “I remember getting frustrated with him sometimes, but then I’d turn around and he’d be doing something to make me crack up laughing. “Even if he was doing something you didn’t like, it was impossible to be mad at him.”

Ginger Petty said she'd known O'Brien since he was about 10 years old and was devastated by his death, saying he grew up playing baseball with her eldest son, Lee.

She described O'Brien has a "wonderful boy" and a great outfielder who never belittled anyone and found a friend in everyone. He was the kind of person who wasn't afraid to step in when he saw a friend in need. She said her son, Lee, struggled with the death of his father when he was a senior in high school and he was in jeopardy of not graduating, but O'Brien talked to him about what was going on and encouraged him. The pair graduated together weeks later.

Petty said she hadn't heard that story until Friday. "It was the first time Lee ever told me," she said. "I thought it was amazing for someone at that age...Nic deserves to be recognized."

Lcpl O'Brien will be buried at Arlington National Cemetary, because, as his father said, "“In his short life, he grew to be a class man. He was a warrior and a hero. And he deserves to be buried beside warriors."

Lcpl O'Brien will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery at 9:00 AM on Tuesday, June 28th.

The day his battalion deployed to Afghanistan in March, he sent his parents an email to reassure them and tell them to sleep easy. "If something happens to me, don't cry over me because this is what I want to be doing," he wrote.

Lcpl O'Brien is survived by parents, Tammy and Richard; and sister, Haley.

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas S. O'Brien was killed in action on 6/9/11.

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