James O., a Marine vet, sends this story about a Marine Gunnery Sergeant, John D. Fry, who was an expert at disarming improvised explosive devices (IEDs). John Fry was not terrorizing Iraqis when he died. He was trying to save them and his Marines.
Marine dies day before return home
Lorena native was proud of his work, did it willingly, family said
Sunday, March 12, 2006
A Marine from Texas who was due to return home from Iraq to his wife and three children this week was killed Wednesday after he volunteered to disarm a bomb in Iraq's war-torn Anbar province.
Gunnery Sgt. John D. Fry, 28, of Lorena, south of Waco, specialized in defusing explosive devices and planned to return to his family at Marine base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for six months before starting another tour in Iraq in September.
"He believed in what he was doing," Malia Fry said of her husband. "He was protecting his country, and he was doing his job because he didn't want his children to grow up with people blowing up buildings."
As an explosive ordinance disposal technician, Fry disarmed hundreds of bombs during his six-month stint in Iraq.
On Wednesday, he volunteered to defuse one more bomb, which exploded and killed him, family members said.
"He laid down his life so other Marines would be safe, and he did it willingly," Malia Fry said. "Every EOD tech that is over there does the same thing a hundred times a day, and they don't think about themselves. They think about the Marines. . . . They think about the children that are over there."
In interviews, Fry's family described him as selfless in his work, protecting his comrades and Iraqis from explosive devices.
Both his wife and his mother, Beth Fry of Lorena, described an incident in which the Marine answered a call to disarm a bomb and played a game of hide-and-seek with a young Iraqi boy before sending the youngster away from the site and out of danger.
On another occasion, Fry arrived at an Iraqi home to find a bomb strapped to a young Iraqi boy with mental retardation.
The Marine disarmed the bomb and saved the child's life.
"He was so proud to be there doing what he was doing," Beth Fry said. "Not just the war part . . . but the Marines and all the military people that are there have restored power, built schools, built hospitals, and they have running water. Those are the things that nobody talks about and that nobody hears about."
Fry was assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
In October, family members said, Fry received a hand injury that was severe enough that he could have left Iraq and gone to Germany.
The graduate of Waco Christian Academy was happy that he was salutatorian of his high school class because he did not like speaking in public and did not want to give a speech at his graduation.
Relatives said Fry will be remembered as a devoted father and a humble patriot.
"(The military) wanted to give him the Bronze Star for his injury, and he wouldn't accept it," Beth Fry said. "He said what he was doing was what he was supposed to be doing and what everyone else was doing."
Family members said he had no second thoughts about returning to Iraq in September.
He is survived by three children: Kathryn, 9; Gideon, 7; and C.L., 2.
"He was a person who knew exactly what he wanted to do and was willing to make the sacrifice to do it," Beth Fry said. "And he realized the cost."
My thoughts and prayers are with the Fry family. You can sign the guest book and leave condolences at Legacy.com.
Godspeed, Gunnery Sergeant Fry, Godspeed.