Sunday, February 26, 2006------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tribute to 2nd Lt. Almar Fitzgerald
lost to us 2/21/06 OIF3
The Citadel mourned one of its own Wednesday after learning Marine Lt. Almar Fitzgerald died of wounds suffered in the Iraq war.
“It certainly is a sad day for the college,” said Col. Joe Trez, director of the president’s support office. “It’s like the loss of a family member.”
Fitzgerald, a Lexington native, died Tuesday in a military hospital in Germany where he had been treated for injuries suffered in a bomb blast about a week ago.
Fitzgerald was one of two Marines from South Carolina whose deaths were announced Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Jay Collado, 31, of Columbia, was killed Monday when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a bomb, the Defense Department said.
The deaths of Fitzgerald and Collado raised the number of troops with S.C. ties to die in the war to 39.
The 24-year-old Fitzgerald, who graduated in 2004, was the 11th Citadel alum to die in the Iraq war, but the first who was a native of South Carolina.
If a picture is worth a thousand words
Then what is a bright smile worth?
If its a smile that lightened the lives it touched
Its worth can bring to life all the precious memories
Of a man that cared
For his friends, for his country, for his brothers.
The loss of such a man can bring us to our knees in sorrow
But also make us all remember the joy he brought to us
The laughter in his eyes,
The genuine joy he felt and showed
Whenever he looked out into the world
Or upon the faces of those he loved.
That God missed his beautiful smile
We know is truth, especially those that miss that smile now
A beloved hero to the ones he left behind
But never forgotten,
That smile that could almost blind
Those that he chose to bestow it on.
May he walk with God, and smile all the time now.
(Lexington) February 21, 2006 - According to friends in Lexington, Marine 2nd Lt. Almar Fitzgerald, a Lexington native, has died as a result of injuries sustained in a weekend roadside bomb attack in Iraq. They say the Marine was taken off life support Tuesday.
2nd Lieutenant Almar Fitzgerald was among a group of California-based Marines who were injured in the weekend attack. At least one Marine was killed, and Fitzgerald was taken to a hospital in Germany to receive treatment for his injuries.
Fitzgerald had been in Iraq for about six months before the attack occurred, and he was scheduled to return home in March. He graduated from Lexington High School in 2000 and from the Citadel in 2004.
Fitzgerald's story has resulted in lots of sympathy. Trish from Columbia e-mailed WIS saying, "I knew him since elementary school, and also grew up playing sports with Almar. I can't remember one time of seeing him without a smile on his face."
Jocelyn Miller lights up when she talks about her friendship with Almar Fitzgerald, "If you heard him laughing you knew it was Almar. He had the biggest smile of anybody I ever met."
She gets teary-eyed when she thinks about his death, "I'm very sad. There's no words to describe it. My best friend is gone."
Alyssa Haladay talked to Fitzgerald's family in Germany after they took him off life support, "I know it's very hard on Roger, his brother. Omar just lit up everyone's life he came in contact with."
Miller says it was an honor to know Fitzgerald. He was brave, fearless, and proud to serve his country. Miller says, "I know he died doing what he wanted to do. As sad as I am, Almar was very happy and he made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and I will always remember he died with the utmost honor. And I will always love him for that."
Friends of the family are raising funds for the Fitzgeralds. You can make a donation at any branch of the First Palmetto Savings Bank.