Pasadena Building Named For Fallen Marine




 
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November 12th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Pasadena Building Named For Fallen Marine


Los Angeles Times
November 12, 2006
The reserve training center honors an officer killed in Iraq on Veterans Day 2004.
By Jean Merl, Times Staff Writer
Veterans Day holds poignant added significance for Edward and Pamela Blecksmith.
It was Nov. 11, 2004, that the San Marino couple's younger son, a Marine Corps officer known from boyhood as "J.P.," was killed by a sniper while trying to lead his men to safety in Fallouja, Iraq.
On Saturday, another Veterans Day and the second anniversary of his death, the Reserve Training Center in Pasadena officially became Blecksmith Hall. The name honors 2nd Lt. James P. Blecksmith, a platoon commander with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.
The emotional naming ceremony outside the two-story, peach stucco center on Paloma Street drew a standing-room-only crowd of family, friends and fellow Marines.
U.S. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) praised the fallen officer, who had received the Bronze Star posthumously, as "a young man who embodied the best of America."
Marine Brig. Gen. Douglas M. Stone called the 24-year-old Blecksmith a "model of bravery and courage and leadership" and said it was fitting that the training center and home of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, now bears his name as an inspiration to future recruits.
Capt. Sven Jensen spoke of his friend and comrade's sense of humor, athletic prowess, strong leadership qualities and keen sense of ethics and duty.
"He was kind of an old breed," said Jensen, who, while many in the audience dabbed at tears, recounted the last time he saw Blecksmith, shortly before his death.
"He had an expression of determination" mixed with "a little bit of apprehension," Jensen recalled. "He had sort of a look of saying goodbye, almost."
Born at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Blecksmith grew up in San Marino with his older siblings, sister Christina and brother Alex.
A scholar and gifted athlete at Flintridge Preparatory School, he opted for the U.S. Naval Academy over the many Pac 10 universities trying to recruit him.
His father and grandfather had been Marines, and that was what J.P. wanted for himself, his sister told The Times shortly after his death.
"We have a long line of Marines in our family, and it embodied what he believed," Christina Blecksmith said.
At the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., he played wide receiver on the football team before graduating as a commissioned officer in 2003.
Blecksmith left for Iraq on Sept. 10, 2004. Two months later, the Department of Defense told his family, he was killed while clearing houses of possible insurgents. After getting two of his wounded men to safety, he charged up onto the roof of a house to check it. A sniper's bullet caught him in the shoulder, and a piece of bone pierced his heart, killing him instantly.
On Saturday, Edward Blecksmith thanked the Marine Corps for "honoring and taking care of one of your own."
He drew smiles from the crowd when he recounted how he managed to calm down his high-energy boy by holding him and singing him songs he remembered from his high school glee club days. One of J.P.' s favorites had been the traditional classic "Wayfaring Stranger." The boy had his own name for it, picked out of the chorus.
"Dad," the elder Blecksmith recalled his son imploring, "Sing me that 'going home' song!"
And so, just before a Marine Corps band played "Anchors Aweigh" and the Marine Corps anthem and a squadron of eight planes flew in tribute over the dispersing crowd, a soloist offered a haunting rendition of the song:
I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe….
Yes I'm going over Jordan
Just going, no more to roam
Only going over Jordan
Just a-going to my home.
 


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