OPERATING BASE ZEEBRUGGE, Afghanistan (3/15/2012) — The fallen
Marine was remembered as a comic relief by many of his friends, but
as Marines and sailors gathered for his memorial service, there was
no laughter. The sun shined brightly against the mountain where the
Marines of Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment,
remembered the life of Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, who served as a fire
team leader, designated marksman, and ammunition technician chief.
Dozens of Marines, sailors, and civilians paid respects to
Lowry, who passed away, March 1, 2012. The ceremony included the
posting of a memorial shrine consisting of Lowry's boots, rifle,
helmet, and identification “dog” tags. Maj. Gen. David H. Berger,
the Task Force Leatherneck commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Terry
L. Jones, the Task Force Leatherneck sergeant major, attended the
ceremony. The crowd was silent, and there was not much noise except
from airplanes flying and birds chirping. Marine sentries stood on
guard and watched over the ceremony.
Lowry extended his
enlistment to deploy here at the northernmost frontier for the
Marines in Helmand province, said Cpl. Roger W. Malcolm, a close
friend of Lowry who served with him for nearly four years at Golf
Battery, 2nd Bn., 11th Marines. Malcolm, a team leader and fire
direction controlman, said the former battalion commander told them
that they were deploying to Kajaki and it would be a dangerous
mission. Their hands shot up immediately.
Although the cause of his death is under investigation, it was not
due to enemy contact or friendly fire, said 1st Sgt. Christopher S.
Gasser, the Golf Battery first sergeant with 2nd Bn., 11th Marines.
Lowry's death came as a surprise to his peers, who didn't expect his
untimely death, as they had gone through combat together and
patrolled through hills and valleys littered with improvised
explosive devices, said Malcolm, a 23-year-old native of Anaheim,
“The death of Cpl. Lowry is tragic in a different way
because it's unexpected,” said Navy Lt. Marlin L. Williams, the 2nd
Bn. chaplain with 11th Marines.
the Marines had difficulty believing the news of Lowry's death,
explained Malcolm. His peers kept the light on in his room that
night of his death, hoping he would return. The memorial service
helped people to accept Lowry's passing, as many of them had
difficulty realizing what happened because he was such a well-known
and prominent Marine in the unit.
“You couldn't help but know
him,” said Williams. “He was 6 foot 5 inches and had a bird's nest
for a haircut. Everybody's gonna know who the big guy is. He stood
out because of his happy-go-lucky personality, and he never
Lowry is remembered as a comedian around the
unit, telling jokes in his loud, Chicago, Irish accent that would
ease the tension in the most difficult situations, said Cpl.
Christian Huerta, a cannon crewman and fire team leader who served
with Lowry and Malcolm for nearly four years at Golf Battery, 2nd
Bn., 11th Marines. Lowry could run three miles in 17 minutes, and he
had natural athletic talent, playing most sports and being very
No matter how bad conditions were, Lowry was able to make
light of it, added Huerta, a fellow Chicago native. The
corporals here lived next to a gun line of M777 lightweight
howitzers, and during several fire missions, the explosions
rattled the windows and shook the building. Plaster crumpled
off the walls and debris floated throughout the room.
“Great, why wouldn't it?” Lowry said with sarcastic
facial expression as dust floated through the air, recounted
Malcolm said Lowry's sense of humor
never stopped, even under enemy fire. He remembered rounds
impacting within feet of Lowry while at Observation Post
Shrine, one of the most northern and contested posts in
Kajaki district. Both of them made light of an incident
where they were almost struck by enemy rounds before Lowry
turned to the direction of the fire and shot back with his
M39 rifle, a modified version of the M14.
didn't really phase him,” explained Malcolm. “He just wanted
to find where the rounds were coming from and hit them back.
He wouldn't miss.”
In January 2012, Malcolm and Lowry
patrolled through Kajaki when his squad received enemy fire
from a compound 1200 meters away. Insurgents were firing
from a protected firing position cut out of a wall. After
firing one round to see where his rounds would land, Lowry
adjusted his aim and fired the remaining 19 rounds into the
small, two foot square, neutralizing the insurgents.
Malcolm said his fondest memory of Lowry was at OP Shrine
with machine gun fire coming at them. The feeling and honor
of being in combat with his best friend is something he will
remember for life.
“He was a warrior... he just really
controlled the battlefield that day at [Observation Post]
Shrine,” said Malcolm. “I'm just privileged to have fought
alongside him. It's one of the best memories I have. I want
people to remember that Lowry wanted to be out here. We're
proud to fight over here.”
Photos of fallen USMC Cpl. Conner T.
Lowry's memorial in frame below
By USMC Sgt. Jacob Harrer
1st Marine Division
Comment on this article