OUTPOST DULUTH, Afghanistan (4/24/2012) – U.S. Marines and sailors
with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, formed a
line in front of a battlefield cross, assembled in honor of Lance
Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, a dog handler and mortarman who served with
Weapons Company, after the conclusion of his memorial service here,
The men of Weapons Company, many of whose lives
were touched by Tarwoe, couldn't hold back their tears as each of
them observed a moment of silence in front of the cross.
Yeager, Tarwoe's improvised explosive device detection dog with whom
he worked since July 2011, displayed his allegiance to his handler
by lying down in front of Tarwoe's cross unprompted.
tears of disbelief in their eyes, the warriors of Weapons Company
recalled their memories of Tarwoe, as a friend, as a brother, as a
father and most of all, as an ideal Marine.
Tarwoe was born
in Liberia. His mother and father, Famatta and Abraham Kar, used all
the money they had to send their son to America, so that he could
live a better life away from the civil war that plagued their
“Being born in Liberia, he knew suffering and the meaning of
sacrifice,” said Capt. Charles E. Anklam III, the commanding officer
of Weapons Company. “He also knew about disproportionate service...he
held no birth obligation to America, in fact his citizenship was
still being processed when he gave his life for his newly adopted
country and his brothers-in-arms.”
“He knew the risks
involved in service...there was no disillusionment in him,” said
Anklam. “Tarwoe's work ethic, loyalty, and devotion to something
larger than himself, transcended national lines and were what drove
him to be here, and to ultimately give his life for his fellow
After graduating from West Side High School in
Newark, N.J., Tarwoe enlisted in the Marine Corps, and reported to
Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C., on June 2009.
After graduating from boot camp and attending the School of Infantry
East in Jacksonville, N.C., he reported for duty to 2nd Bn., 9th
Marines, and was assigned to Weapons Company in November 2009.
Yeager, an improvised explosive device
detection dog, lies in front of a battlefield cross as Staff Sgt.
Derick Clark, a kennel supervisor with Headquarters and Service
Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, and 26-year-old native
of Hillsdale, Mich., and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Dale
Reeves, a kennel officer in charge with 2nd Bn., 9th Marines and
41-year-old native of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., observe a moment of
silence in honor of Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, a dog handler and
mortarman who served with Weapons Company, 2nd Bn., 9th Marines,
during a memorial service here, April 22, 2012. Tarwoe, who became
Yeager's handler in July 2011, was killed in action during a
dismounted patrol in support of combat operations in Helmand
province's Marjah district, April 12. Tarwoe's fellow Marines
remember him for his contagious laughter and smile, and his
unfaltering courage on the battlefield. Photo by USMC Cpl. Alfred V.
Tarwoe deployed with Weapons Company to Marjah district in 2010, and
returned again in December 2011. During a dismounted patrol, Tarwoe
stepped on an IED and died of the wounds he received from the blast.
“Abraham has done his duty,” said Anklam. “I know those of us
who were privileged enough to have known him, are forever better for
Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Fisher, a platoon sergeant with
Weapons Company, recalled his conversation with Tarwoe, on April 12,
the day he passed away.
“First time I met Tarwoe, I couldn't
understand but half of what he said,” recalled Fisher. “He had that
“Although I don't recall our first
conversation, I would always remember our last,” said Fisher. “It
was short but to the point.”
“It was the morning of the 12th
and we were loading the trucks,” remembers Fisher. “As I passed him,
I asked, ‘Are you and that dog ready?'”
“He just looked up, with that smile of his, and said,
‘Hell yeah Gunny!',” said Fisher. “Then he continued to walk
to the trucks.”
“He always had that smile,” said
Fisher. “It didn't matter whether you were correcting him or
congratulating him, he did everything with a smile. And
that's how I'll remember him.”
Tarwoe's smile is a
symbol of his character, which will be forever remembered by
both his senior leaders and junior Marines.
three of Tarwoe's fellow Marines, Sgt. Larry Davis and Lance
Cpls. Demone Hall and Joseph Gross, a radio operator,
infantryman and mortarman, who served with him in Weapons
Company, wore looks of grief for their fallen comrade.
As they spoke of Tarwoe, their sad demeanors faded,
replaced by the smiles and laughter they once shared with
“He really loved sports, and he was really
competitive,” said Davis, a 25-year-old native of Cleveland.
“He also had a weird collection of favorite teams,”
added Davis. “His favorite college football team was
Tennessee and his favorite NFL team was the Vikings.”
“He taught me how to play some card games,” said Hall, a
21-year-old native of Detroit. “He was a really fierce poker
player. Really fierce.”
“If he made a mistake and he
got yelled at, he'd come in the next day with the same smile
on his face,” said Gross, a 21-year-old native of Kent,
Ohio. “He was fearless and confident.”
As Gross told
a story from earlier in April, his serious tone was evidence
that Tarwoe's actions have inspired him to live his life the
same way his fallen brother did.
“He loved being a
dog handler,” added Gross. “I remember him saying how much
he really wanted to be a dog handler before he was
interviewed for it. He loved it more than he loved being a
A few weeks ago, a fellow Marine was
injured by an IED during a mounted patrol. Without
hesitation, and without anyone's order, Tarwoe took the
initiative to lead Yeager and search the surrounding area
for secondary IEDs, Gross said.
automatically started controlling Yeager,” said Gross. “They
walked about 30 meters ahead of the lead vehicle across the
road and started directing Yeager. He didn't think about it,
it was like it was instinct.”
Gross and his fellow
Marines also recalled that Tarwoe always talked about his
son, and how much he was looking forward to getting home and
spending time with him. It was things like this, they said,
that made him a great father.
“We often talked about
whose house we're going to have a barbeque at,” said Gross.
“We talked about how we would go buy little plastic kiddy
pools for our sons and let them splash around in them.”
Tarwoe is survived by his son Avant J. Kar, his wife
Juah B. Kelly, and his parents, Famatta and Abraham.
His fellow Marines hope that those who live on because
of him live their lives in the same fearless and confident
way that Tarwoe did. Most importantly, they hope that the
memories of his life as a Marine, as a son, as a brother and
as a father, will live on in the hearts of those whose lives
he has touched.
More photos available in frame below
By USMC Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez
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