AL TAQQADUM, Iraq -- "... Burgess. Lance Corporal Burgess... has anyone seen Lance Corporal Burgess?" asked Sgt. Maj. Doyle W. Braddy, sergeant major, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., to a still room.
His voice trembling, he reported to Lt. Col. Dave R. Leppelmeier, commanding officer, MWSS-374, "All present but one."
Friends and fellow servicemembers from MWSS-374 and 3rd MAW gathered here March 29, to pay tribute to Lance Cpl. Jeffrey C. Burgess, killed in action March 25 near Fallujah, Iraq.
"You're a true friend," read Lance Cpl. George W. Hyndman, Burgess' friend and fellow military policeman, from a letter that he wrote to say goodbye to the Plymouth, Mass., native. His voice cracking he said, "You're my brother."
The Woodinville, Wash., native left the podium to a room filled with silence.
Burgess, a military policeman with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, MWSG-37, 3rd MAW, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., arrived in country less than a month ago. His unit was assigned to MWSS-374 based out of MCAGCC, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Maj. Gen. James F. Amos, commanding general, 3rd MAW, addressed the group encouraging them to stay strong and to remember their fallen brother.
"Lance Cpl. Burgess was my guardian angel," said 1st Lt. Scott Welch, officer in charge, MWSS-374 security detail. "He was there, in the turret protecting all of us."
With tears in his eyes, the young lieutenant added, "Now he is everyone's guardian angel."