Happy memorial day everyone. I'd like to start the day off in remembrance. December 11th, 2003 was a day I'm fairly certain I'll carry with me until it's my turn to go. I didn't really know SPC Marshall L. Edgerton before I met him in Iraq, although we were in neighboring units separated by a small hill in Garrison. We had spoken a few times in Ramadi while on guard duty together. I remember liking him. What I mainly remember of Edge was his compassion and caring spirit. On the day he was to pass on, we were on a duty together which entailed escorting foreign nationals around our base while they made repairs to the facilities US Forces had decimated when taking the compound. When edge got in the truck that took his life, it wasn't his turn in the rotation. The young private (PFC King, I believe) was in the middle of his lunch when the truck he was supposed to escort pulled up to the gate after being inspected by the MP's at the checkpoint. Edge was next in the rotation but, seeing King still eating, he told the young Soldier to keep eating as he graciously took this one on. It wasn't necessarily that big of a deal as we hadn't felt the burn of many, if any, direct attacks on our compound until that day. We had ensued onslaughts of mortar fire but those rounds rarely hit inside the walls. If they did, they fell in rather remote areas. I had, previously to the events, already been assigned to a group of nationals responsible for doing some landscaping type work not far from the main entrance.
I remember it being a relatively peaceful day, sun shining and hot as all hell. As I was watching these guys from Baghdad work, I couldn't help but consider their plight. Extremely impoverished and doing whatever work they could to earn barely enough to buy food. I was ripped from my thoughts by one of the biggest explosions I've ever heard, followed shortly by an explosive shockwave. As I looked around to figure out what the hell was going on, heart and thoughts racing a million miles a minute, M16 trained on the group of people I was tasked with guarding, I began to hear a multitude of shouts. What the fuck was happening? Were we just attacked? Do I start shooting these people?
As it turned out, one of the Iraqi contractors responsible for coordinating the efforts to rebuild our compound was also responsible for coordinating the purchase and construction of a massive, and skilfully hidden, VBIED which successfully breached our walls.
While I only have second hand accounts of what transpired, we know that edge, almost immediately upon getting in the vehicle, noticed something was off. The nervous driver attempted to hit the detonator and there was a struggle. Edge did his goddamn best to stop what was happening but it wasn't enough. One of the nationals was able to hit the button and the ensuing explosion nearly vaporized three people. One of those being edge. He wasn't the only victim that day but he was the only life lost.
Though I didn't know him very well, I think about him quite a bit. I'm often reminded of him when cars backfire, or when doors slam a little too hard. I barely knew you but you were a brother to us all. I miss you buddy. I hear your son is serving in your footsteps now and, wow, what an honor that would've been for you. I hope you're resting in peace man.
Happy memorial day everyone. Please remember the reason for your celebrations today. People just like edge have given their lives in service to their country and it is them we honor today!