Friday, August 05, 2011

Marine Sgt. Daniel D. Gurr

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Daniel D. Gurr, 21, of Vernal, Utah

Sgt Gurr was assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Okinawa, Japan; died Aug. 5, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

“Sgt. Gurr was an outstanding Marine, the epitome of what we expect from our noncommissioned officers and a fine man,” said Master Sgt. Roy Hardesty, acting battalion sergeant major and the family readiness officer for 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. “He was respected and loved by his fellow team members as well as the rest of the Marines in the Battalion.”

According to family and friends, Sgt Gurr had declared as a child that he would join the military when he was old enough. He had played “soldier” as a kid and revered his grandfather, who had also served in the military.

Sgt Gurr graduated from Uintah High School in 2008. He enlisted in the Marines before entering his senior year. He'd been stationed in Okinawa since 2009 and had been promoted to sergeant last month.

At age 17, Gurr convinced his parents to allow him to enlist in the Marine Corps. He choose that branch of the service, mother, Tracy Beede said, because “the uniform was better, so he could pick up more chicks."

“That's a 17-year-old kid,” she said

“He always wanted to pay back, as he put it, his freedom. He wanted to give other people the opportunities he had. People need to know the opportunities they get in this world come from the sacrifices of others, and that’s how Daniel looked at it.”

“I did not see a moment since Daniel's been born that he didn't enjoy life,” his mother said. “He lived life to the fullest."

That life included playing soccer and serving as a student body officer at Uintah High, where he dipped and kissed the school's female principal after accepting his diploma, friends and family recalled.

“He'd gone from the little boy I'd sent to boot camp to a man; a through and through man," his mother said. “I had probably never been so proud of him, and not as just a mom, but as an American."

“To watch that many Marines graduate and that many young men and women be ready to take the oath and make that sacrifice for our freedom, for our country. To give up everything for that, it was amazing.”

Sgt Gurr last spoke with his mother on July 27, her birthday. She said he was thrilled that the place where his unit was living finally had air conditioning, but he still longed for a real shower. Despite those hardships and the dangers of combat, her son was happy.

“He was hot and tired, but loving it,” she said. “He loved his platoon. They were his family, his brothers.”

“He always worried about me,” Beede said. He'd call all my friends and ask, 'How's mom doing?'” she added.

Beede said the loss of her son has left her feeling numb, but she believes he died in the service of others doing something he was always meant to do and that he squeezed every experience possible into his brief life.

VERNAL — Looking at the photo Tracy Beede held of her son Friday afternoon, it's hard to imagine that he was always a mama's boy.

In the image, Sgt. Daniel Gurr is resolutely standing guard as fellow Marines move away from a helicopter that has just dropped them on the deck of a ship. He's clad in full battle gear, his assault rifle muzzle down.

“He always worried about me,” Beede said, sitting in the front room of her Vernal home surrounded by a growing circle of family and friends.

“He'd call all my friends and ask, 'How's mom doing?'” she added.

Of course, Beede feared for her son's safety, too. Less than five hours earlier the worst of those fears became reality when the mother of four answered a knock on the door and found two marines and a sailor standing on her porch.

“I knew,” Beede said.

Gurr, who enlisted in the Marine Corps before entering his senior year at Uintah High School, was shot and killed Friday by enemy small-arms fire during a foot patrol near Malozai, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. The 21-year-old had recently been promoted to sergeant, his mother said, and was assigned to 3rd Recon Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.

Marine Sgt. Daniel D. Gurr was killed in action on 8/05/11.

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