Saturday, July 29, 2006

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28, of Wolf Creek, Mont.

Cpl. Baucus was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; killed July 29 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Tribune Staff Writer

A Wolf Creek Marine died Saturday during combat operations in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28, was killed in Al Anbar province, Iraq, according to a Marine Corps spokeswoman.

Cpl. Baucus is the son of Wolf Creek ranchers John and Nina Baucus and the nephew of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Almost a year ago he wed Katharine Taylor at the historic Sieben Ranch, operated by his parents in the Wolf Creek area.

Details on the circumstances surrounding his death were not available Tuesday.

Cpl. Baucus served as a scout and team leader with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

It was his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"Our family is devastated by the loss of Phillip," Sen. Baucus said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "We loved him dearly and we'll miss him more than words can ever express.

"Phillip served with great honor and dignity," he said. "America owes him a debt of gratitude."

Cpl. Baucus and his wife both graduated from Capital High School in Helena in 1995. Principal Randy Carlson remembered him as a mature and friendly student.

Carlson recalled that a few years after his graduation; Cpl. Baucus operated heavy machinery at the school for a contractor doing a renovation project.

"He was comfortable with whatever task he was given," Carlson said. "He was a mature kid."

Tom Pedersen, Baucus' former track coach and biology teacher at the high school, called him a "super kid" who was "just a great person to be around."

"It's so sad," Pedersen said "Kids just starting out their lives, getting married, and then they're gone."

Baucus was active in the school orchestra and played string bass under the direction of Beth Mazanec, even participating in an ensemble that practiced before the school day began. On Tuesday, Mazanec remembered him as a strong musician "who came to class with a smile on his face every day and got along well with everyone."

"He was so gung ho," she said. "I think he was proud of the fact that he was a good bass player."

Cpl. Baucus enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 13, 2002, and was deployed to Iraq for his second tour in March.

While in the Marines, he was awarded numerous decorations, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Combat Action ribbon.

Politicians around the state and country issued statements of condolence to the Baucus family Tuesday.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said, "There's one more Marine standing the eternal watch over Heaven tonight."

Jon Tester of Big Sandy, Burns' Democratic opponent in November, also expressed condolences on behalf of him and his wife.

"Sharla and I are deeply saddened by the news of the death of Phillip Baucus. The hearts of all Montanans go out to the Baucus family and we pray for them and for all the men and women of our armed forces in harm's way," Tester said in a statement.

Congressman Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said he met Cpl. Baucus for the first time at the marina at Gates of the Mountains near Helena.

"He was a great young man and this is very sad news," he said. "Phillip paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and for that we should all be grateful."

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he and his wife, Nancy, were praying for the Baucus family in their time of loss.

"Today a family lost a son and a husband," Schweitzer said. "Montana lost a hero."

He added that Cpl. Baucus' "sacrifices will be remembered by Montana and the country."

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus was killed in action on 07/29/06.

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