October 26th, 2004


Sad news

Kaneohe Marine killed:

A Humvee crash kills the first Kaneohe Marine to die in Iraq since the war began

A Kaneohe Marine died in a Humvee accident in Iraq over the weekend.
Lance Cpl. Richard P. Slocum, of Saugus, Calif., is the first Kaneohe Marine to die in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began 19 months ago.

His death Sunday brings the number of people with Hawaii ties killed in Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan since March 2003 to 25. One of them was a civilian.

Slocum enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 13, 2003 and arrived at Kaneohe in February.

The Los Angeles Daily News said today that Slocum, whose family lives in Valencia, Calif., arrived in the Middle East two weeks ago.

His uncle, Keith Lair, told the newspaper that Slocum's parents, Kay and Robert Slocum, were told by the Army that their son died when his Humvee overturned while he was negotiating barricades at his Marine base near Abu Ghraib.

Slocum, 19, graduated in 2003 from Saugus High School.

"He had a lot of friends; you wouldn't believe all the friends who have been here today," Lair said as friends gathered at his home yesterday. "He liked to have fun; he was reallypopular."

The blond, blue-eyed teen and a best friend, who was heading to the Army after high school, shaved their heads about six months before Slocum left for boot camp, Lair said. During training, Slocum broke his foot, delaying his Marine graduation a week.

"He wanted so desperately to graduate with his class, but they kept him another week," Lair said. While the class was deployed to Iraq, Slocum was sent to Hawaii, where his parents visited him before he was sent to the war zone.

"He didn't think he was going to go to Iraq at all."

Slocum is survived by his parents; sister, Kimberly; and brother, Robert Jr.

He became 19th person — one was a Big Island resident civilian — with Hawaii ties to die in Iraq or Kuwait since the war started on March 19, 2003.

Another six have been killed in Afghanistan; all were members of the 25th Infantry Division, which has been there since March. The 25th Infantry Division has lost nine soldiers in Iraq.

Slocum’s Kaneohe unit is part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is normally stationed in Okinawa.

On July 3, Slocum’s unit — Kaneohe Bay’s 1st Battalion — was sent to Okinawa for what was supposed to be a normal seven-month deployment. However, the unit, made up of about 900 Kaneohe Marines, was flagged as Iraqi replacements and left Okinawa Aug. 23. The 31st MEU arrived in Kuwait in September to begin a seven-month tour.

Also assigned to the 31st MEU are the 70 Marines and six CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters from Kaneohe's Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463. The unit left Kaneohe Bay in April and is assigned to Okinawa's Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, the aviation element of the 31st MEU.

The 31st MEU — drawn from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force — is made up of 2,100 Marines and sailors broken down into four elements: command, ground combat, aviation combat, and the service support group.

About 2,200 soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade, now training in Texas, are scheduled to arrive in Iraq by February or March. About 600 members of the Hawaii Army National Guard and Hawaii Army Reservists are already in Iraq.

In addition to the Guard and Reserves, about 10,500 25th Infantry Division soldiers from Schofield Barracks also are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seen at http://starbulletin.com/breaking/breaking.php?id=3012