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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots
By USMC Cpl. Benjamin Crilly

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Gunner, Marine, Friend Remembered
(June 24, 2011)

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USMC Lance Cpl. Sean M. O’ConnorPATROL BASE DASH, Helmand province, Afghanistan (6/21/2011)  -- Marines and sailors from Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, paid tribute to the life and service of Lance Cpl. Sean M. O'Connor during a memorial service at Patrol Base Dash, Sangin, Afghanistan, June 21.

O'Connor was killed in action June 12 on a foot patrol while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Sangin. The Oceanside, Calif., native was an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gunner with 3rd Platoon, Company A.

The SAW gunner moved to Douglas, Wyo., where he graduated from Douglas High School in May of 2007. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego just one week later. Upon graduation he reported to Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry-West.

Prior to being assigned to 1/5, O'Connor was assigned to Color Guard Plt., Company A, Marine Barracks 8th and I. As a member of the Color Guard, he performed more than 150 ceremonies and funerals.

When he arrived to the operating forces, 3rd Platoon Marines remembered the fallen hero as being very straight forward with people, always eager to lend a hand and always striving for self improvement.

“I remember when Lance Cpl. O'Connor first met me. He was so motivated to be in 3rd Plt., Company A, 1/5,” said Lance Cpl. Francisco N. Navarro, a team leader for 3rd Plt. “He tried to prove to me that he could be trusted and relied upon.”

As with every newcomer, the platoon tasked him to determine if they could count on him and trust him, said Navarro, from San Bernardino, Calif. O'Connor exceeded their expectations and quickly became recognized as the type of Marine that would do anything for a fellow Marine regardless of rank.
Lance Cpl. Samuel L. Henderickson, an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gunner for 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, places the rifle as part of the battlefield memorial during a memorial service for Lance Cpl. Sean M. O’Connor at Patrol Base Dash, Afghanistan on June 21, 2011. The Marines of 1/5 paid tribute to the life and service of O’Connor, also an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gunner with 3rd Plt., Company A.
Lance Cpl. Samuel L. Henderickson, an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gunner for 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, places the rifle as part of the battlefield memorial during a memorial service for Lance Cpl. Sean M. O'Connor at Patrol Base Dash, Afghanistan on June 21, 2011. The Marines of 1/5 paid tribute to the life and service of O'Connor, also an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gunner with 3rd Plt., Company A.
“I remember one time on a field op exercise I went down as a casualty. He picked me up with all my gear on and carried me to the pickup site,” said Navarro. “That was just the type of Marine Lance Cpl. O'Connor was – a Marine, a friend and someone you can count on.”

O'Connor showed this same level of dedication to everyone he met without so much as a single complaint, said Cpl. Nicholas J. Rinchuso, a team leader for 3rd Plt. He was able to identify problems and did what he had to in order to solve with minimal guidance from others.

“He was the first Marine I met from my fire team and right off the bat I knew he was someone I could count on. He started off by saying, ‘Good morning Corporal, I am Lance Cpl. O'Connor and if you need anything done just say the word,'” said Rinchuso, from Indianapolis, Ind. “He would help me out when there was a lot on my plate. The little things I missed he would pick up on and execute without so much as a word from me.”

The chaplain's remarks to the Marines gathered talked about how everyone is on borrowed time
and how O'Connor showed the world his devotion and love for his fellow Marine. O'Connor had extended his contract to be able to deploy with 1/5 and be there for his brothers in arms.

“He took in all that life had to offer and was not shy about it,” said Lt. David D. Kim, the chaplain for 1/5, from Mineola, N.Y. “He knew what he wanted to do and what he was born to do. He extended his time in order to make this deployment.

O'Connor's ability to serve others, take care of them without complaint and his attitude toward his fellow man will be missed as 3rd Platoon finishes up their deployment without him there to lend a hand.

His personal awards include the Purple Heart , the Combat Action Ribbon, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and two Letters of Appreciation.

Article and photo By USMC Cpl. Benjamin Crilly
Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division
Copyright 2011

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