From The Oregonian August 27, 2006
Iraq strengthened SEAL's patriotism
The slain Oregon native, honored by 600, wrote home of his love for
Sunday, August 27, 2006
AMY MARTINEZ STARKE
A Navy SEAL's everyday life would reduce most people to sobbing wrecks: extremes of heat and cold, sleep deprivation, the constant specter of danger. It is an existence of late-night phone calls and missed birthdays, while standing watch over the troubled waters of this world so that others may sleep peacefully.
It was the life that U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A. Lee stoically, even cheerfully, accepted, said his family and friends
SEALs rely on each other like brothers, so it is no surprise that Lee gave his life saving his brothers, said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who represents Hood River, where Lee grew up.
Walden was among about a dozen who spoke at Lee's memorial service Saturday at the Hood River Expo Center.
Lee, 28, was killed Aug. 2 in a fierce firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq. An aviation ordinanceman and a member of a Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL team, Lee was one of the first members of the elite group to be killed in Iraq.
U.S. Navy officers told Debbie Lee that her son died after single-handedly holding off enemy fighters as his team rescued a wounded soldier from a rooftop. During the two-hour battle, Marc Lee fired 100 rounds against insurgents, they told her.
At least 600 people filled the Hood River Expo Center on Saturday. They came to hear Lee eulogized as son, husband, brother, uncle, warrior, outstanding American, and sincere Christian.
There were videos of Lee as a brawny young man and with his family members and a large portrait adorned with Lee's SEAL trident showing him in Navy whites.
The Mid-Columbia Community Choir's renditions of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Navy Hymn" echoed through the cavernous building.
Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees of the Oregon National Guard, representing Gov. Ted Kulongoski, gave Debbie Lee a Gold Star banner. Kulongoski, who has vowed to attend the funeral of all active duty military personnel from Oregon, attended Lee's funeral and burial two weeks ago at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, Calif.
On Saturday, Lee's brother, Kris read one of the last letters Lee had written:
"I have felt fear," Lee wrote, "at some of the things I have seen here. . . . I have seen amazing things and sad things."
But being in Iraq, he wrote, "makes me realize what a great country we have."
Boyhood best friend Chris Wells, who later joined Marc Lee's family when he married Lee's sister, Cheryl, said, "Marc was my best friend, my brother-in-law, my children's uncle, and now my hero."
Officiating pastor Doug Iverson said of Lee: "He left as a boy, and he become a true warrior. He was not a perfect man. Not perfect but perfected in God."
Lee was born in Portland on March 28, 1978. He graduated from Baptist Christian School in Hood River in 1996.
He is survived by his wife, Maya Elbaum; mother, Debra Lee; sister, Cheryl Wells; and brother, Kris.
On display at Saturday's service were the Silver Star medal, which Lee was awarded posthumously, and a Bronze Star.
At least 70 motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders, who attend many military funerals, roared into the parking lot, many with American flags affixed to their cycles. They and their supporters drowned out four protesters from Westboro Baptist Church. Members of the Kansas church have claimed God is killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq to punish the United States for tolerating homosexuality and persecuting their church.
Amy Martinez Starke: 503-221-8534; email@example.com
"Fair winds and a following sea." AO2 Marc Alan Lee.
God bless and keep you, your family, and friends.
:patriot: :angel: :crying: :patriot: