AL TAQADDUM, Iraq -- A memorial service for two fallen Marines of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, was held at the chapel here, June 3.
The service was held for Capt. Nathanael J. Doring, a pilot from Apple Valley, Minn., and Cpl. Richard A. Bennett, a mechanic and native of Girard, Kan., who died during a maintenance test flight, when the AH-1W Super Cobra they were flying crashed May 27.
"The memories of our fallen comrades will last forever and inspire us even more to stay focused on the mission at hand," said Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, HMLA-169, and Jackson Hinds, Miss., native. "We all understand the dangers of what we do, but we trust that our training and discipline will keep us focused on doing our very best at our mission and maintaining troop welfare."
During the service, the chaplain gave the invocation and the commanding officer spoke to the unit about the Marines who passed.
"They were directly contributing to our mission here in Iraq and the larger Global War on Terrorism," said Lt. Col. Biagio Colandreo Jr., commanding officer, HMLA-169. "As heartbreaking as this is for our squadron, our hearts and prayers are with the Doring and Bennett families. Words fall very short in expressing our condolences to them at this very difficult time."
The part of the service that seemed to touch the audience the most was when Marines approached the podium and shared their personal reflections of their fallen friends.
"Losing a brother as we did is one of the most painful things I've ever endured," said Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Bowman, UH-1N Huey helicopter crew chief, HMLA-169, and Tehachapi, Calif., native. "As full as my heart is with sadness, we must remember not to dwell on the tragedy, but to remember two great men and the memories they have left us."
After the last shot of the rifle detail was fired in honor of the two Marines and role call was taken to recognize their loss, the service closed as Marines, sailors and soldiers stopped at the displays of the fallen Marines to say their last goodbyes.
"Everything Nate did in some way was for (his wife), Lisa, or his son, Alex," said Capt. Jeffrey M. Sykes, a Cobra pilot with HMLA-169 and Tehachapi, Calif., native. "I would hope that for those that knew him he would want them to know that family is first, and right up to the end his priority was: God, family and Corps."
The service the Marines provided their country and the friendships they made during their time in the Marine Corps will be missed.
"I will use the memory of (Bennett's) life to give me strength through the next five months and on future challenges," said Lance Cpl. Tyler S. Malm, UH-1N Huey helicopter crew chief, HMLA-169, and La Habra, Calif., native. "I am so proud to have gotten to stand by him in Iraq. I will always cherish the memories that we had together."
"The selfless sacrifice that they made will not be forgotten by the Vipers and shouldn't be by our country either," said Colandreo, a Rockville, Md., native. "As a squadron, we know we have to go through the grieving process, but we also have a mission to do. We'll do everything we can to bring honor to the memory of our fallen brothers by continuing the fight here and by not forgetting what a great squadron we are."