Marines of 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment paused to honor a man who gave his life for the cost of freedom.
The battalion held a memorial service for Sgt. Bryan K Burgess at Camp Baharia Nov 18.
Burgess was a 35-year-old machine gunner from Westland, Mich., assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment.
Burgess was killed Nov. 9 while conducting combat operations with Regimental Combat Team 5 in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Sgt. Burgess was the epitome of a sergeant of Marines,” said Lt. Col. Harold Van Opdorp, a 39-year-old battalion commander from Stafford, Va. “He fit the mold of a sergeant of Marines like no other.”
“Bryan held such a love for his country that he felt it was worth sacrificing his life for,” Van Opdorp said. “We know this because he was one of many Marines that volunteered to deploy to Iraq with Weapons Company, another kid that didn’t have to, but wanted to because it was the right thing to do.”
Marines who knew Burgess spoke of his love for his Marines and his Irish heritage. They also spoke of his infectious smile that will always be remembered.
“In Burgess’ case, his ability to smile and generate a smile on virtually anyone who observed him under some of the most trying circumstance was infectious,” said Maj. Gregory Cramer, Weapons Company’s commander. “I would ask that each one of us rededicate and devote ourselves to the memory of Burgess, to one and another, dig down deep to find that extra step and use it for the good Burgess would want us to use it.”
Sgt. David Payne knew Burgess for more than five years and will always remember him for his love of his country and of his heritage.
“Most of us remember him as a wiry Irishman,” Payne said. “He would give you the shirt off his back and the money out of his pocket, and his only regret would be that he couldn’t give you more.”
By Lance Cpl. Stephen McGinnis