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Webmatters : US Marine Sergeant Michael Washington
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Michael Washington

The sacrifice continues

On the 1st July 2008 I was here at Belleau Wood showing a Marine Corps Officer and his wife around the area of the battlefield.

On reaching the monument he pulled out two photos from his pocket. They were both of a young friend called Michael Washington who had recently been killed whilst serving in Afghanistan.

In memory of Michael Washington

I suggested that he write an explanatory note on the back and leave them on the monument for other visitors.

It is something that you can often see in the Commonwealth cemeteries. A photo or just a few lines about a soldier instantly makes that grave stone personal. And for that reason we felt that reminding people here at the Marines Monument that the sacrifice goes on 90 years later was a worthy venture.

An only son of a Seattle fireman he had been killed on the 14th June 2008 by an IED (An abbreviation all too well known to us from Northern Ireland – an Improvised Explosive Device).

The following day was Fathers’ Day.

As Michael was the soldier in question I shall let him take up the torch as we Empire folk would say !

The following obituary has been gleaned from a number of sources and with Michael’s folks permission.

 

Sergeant Michael T Washington of Golf Company, 2nd Bn 7th US Marines

He had the world at his feet. I mean, he could have done anything,
any direction that he wanted to go

Michael Washington Snr

Michael Washington Jnr was born on 6th October 1987 at the Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton in California where his father was serving with the Marine Corps. Wee Michael played soccer and baseball and had just got used to playing on the Californian beaches when the family moved in 1994 to the colder climes of Tacoma (Washington State—not DC).

The soccer playing continued but he was also developing a deep conviction for his faith which in turn provided him with a growing sense of moral conviction. Michael, even at a young age, was already showing the signs of becoming a young man of great integrity; who believed that standing up for the defenceless was a duty and not some optional extra in life which could be added when it suited.

As with all people who share this conviction Michael understood the need for a work ethic and dedication. When his father was away on duty Michael could be counted upon to help with the chores about the house and to keep the place ticking.

In the summer of 2005, having completed his schooling in Tacoma, 17 year old Michael had no doubts as to where the future was going to take him: The US Marines.

Dad, I want to help people who can’t help themselves
and being Marine Infantry is where I’d do the most good.

Michael Washington Jnr

His training finished in February 2006, Private 1st Class Michael Washington was assigned to G Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. In radio parlance: Golf 2/7.

Michael Washington USMC

Michael Washington USMC

In early 2007 Golf Company was deployed to Iraq and Michael’s sense of duty and dedication soon showed through. He was decorated for his bravery in the midst of an ambush when he covered the withdrawl of his patrol, and was soon promoted to Corporal.

 

Sgt Michael Washington USMC in Iraq

Fallujah, Iraq — 12th May 2008
Lance Corporal Michael Washington from Tacoma, Washington moves through a field during a security patrol 12th May 2007 in the area known as Zaidon in the Al Anbar province near Fallujah, Iraq.

His roulement tour in Iraq finished he was selected to attend a Squad Leaders’ Course which he completed with flying colours. Promoted to the rank of Sergeant at just 20 he took up the command of 1st Platoon in his old Company.

2008 brought a new posting for Golf Company; this time to Afghanistan, where they were to assist in training the local Afghan police.

On his final patrol Sergeant Michael Washington, 20 years old, was fatally injured by a roadside bomb exploding under his vehicle. Three of the four other members of the crew were also killed: Lance Cpl. Layton Bradly Crass, Pfc. Dawid Pietrek and Pfc. Michael Robert Patton.

His father now retired from the Marines and a local Seattle fireman was accompanied by his and other Fire Brigades out to the military airfield to bring his son home to rest.

Aja and Michael

Aja and Michael

Michael had been devoted to his parents and sister, Aja. He and his mother: Grace enjoyed kidding around and talking about every subject under the sun whilst he and his father enjoyed playing practical jokes on each other.

 

Memorial Day

The American equivalent to our Armistice Commemoration is Memorial Day and although their families may not have been touched by the Great War as ours have it was that war which brought the United States to the forefront of world politics and policing. A position that it has not always been comfortable with.

Whilst not wishing to forget the sacrifice by our own soldiers and those of Canada in particular I will let Michael Senior have the last word with a message for his fellow countrymen on Memorial Day.

Everybody who’s seeing this message right now, if you didn’t have anybody that you can think about for a minute, now you do. Sergeant Michael T Washington, Second Battalion 7th Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps. And just take a minute and say thanks for what you did.

In memory of Michael Washington

In memory of Michael Washington