My original design for this space today revolved around writing something predictably trite and obnoxious. And then a damn unfunny thing happened.
In the decade-plus since we formally declared "War on Terrorism" and sent our fighting men and women into battle in forsaken lands around the globe - including the dual vacation paradises of Iraq and Afghanistan - New Jersey has lost a number of its sons and daughters. Earlier this week the official number of war dead with ties to the State of Concrete Gardens reached an ominously round number: one hundred and fifty.
Marine Corporal Christopher Monahan, Jr. of Ocean Gate was killed in action in Afghanistan on Monday. Corporal Monahan's vehicle was the lead vehicle in a convoy of twenty-seven when his vehicle struck an IED in Helmand Province. Corporal Monahan was but twenty-five years young. I must confess that as I wrote that last sentence I paused for a moment at his age. He was, in fact, younger than both of my two. He was too damn young to die.
Corporal Monahan, a 2005 graduate of Central Regional High School in Bayville, joined the Marines with a high school friend shortly after graduation. Monahan was assigned to the Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., the Department of Defense said. The battalion is responsible for delivering fuel, ammunition and supplies to outlying patrol bases in Afghanistan via ground convoys and air. Although he was just 25 years old he was on his third deployment in a war zone. He was killed seventy days from wrapping up his first deployment to Afghanistan, which followed on the heels of two tours of Iraq. One hell of a lot of killing and dying to be witnessed firsthand by one so damn young.
He was the oldest of three siblings and the father of three small children ranging in age from one to six years of age. His mother Sandy traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday to meet the plane carrying her oldest child home to her - one final time. Sandy Monahan told the Star-Ledger that, "Everything I pick up, everybody’s eyes I look into, I see him. He is just everything, he is my heart."
And a hero to all - including those of us who never had the pleasure of making his acquaintance....