Sergeant Jonathan W Lambert, 28, of Newsite, Mississippi.
Lambert died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany
, as a result of injuries
he suffered when his HMMWV
rolled over on May 26, 2003
. He was assigned to the Headquarters Battalion
, 1st Marine Division
, Camp Pendleton
. Died on June 1, 2003
We had our memorial service for sergeant lambert on June 9, 2003. The sequence of events went thusly:
First, the religious part. The chaplain got up in front of our company (which is in formation) and a gathered crowd (who is sitting in chairs off to our right) and opens with a short prayer. He then hands the mic to four people. The first three read scripture (psalm 23, something from John, and something else - I'm not a bible scholar), and the last, a friend of Sgt Lambert, gives us a little speech that he prepared, and then read an email that he got from one of Sgt Lambert's other friends who had gotten news of his death. Then we all sang Amazing Grace (I remembered three of the four verses that we sang, amazingly enough. I _love_ 'amazing grace', even if I'm not a religious/spiritual guy), and then the chaplain gave _his_ speech. I don't like chaplain speeches, because the chaplain didn't even _know_ the guy. Last, our company CO gave his speech, which of course made Sgt Lambert out to sound like he walked on water and singlehandedly ran the entire division (in his sleep). That's cool with me, though, because he was a damn cool guy.
Second, came the emotional part. The CO called us all to attention (we spent the ceremony at ease) and said "first sergeant, take final roll call!" so our 1stSgt marched up and called out (we practiced this before, I got to be one of the lucky three) three Marines, we answered "here, 1stsgt!" and then he called "Sgt Lambert". He waited a second, then called "Sgt Lambert" again. Then he waited and called "Sgt Lambert" a third time. On the third time, we had a detail with a rifle with a fixed bayonet, a helmet and a pair of boots and dog tags. The first guy stuck the rifle in the ground muzzle down. The second guy put the helmet on the butt of the rifle, and the third set the boots in front of it and hung the dog tags from the pistol grip. While they were doing this, 1stsgt said, "Sgt Jonathan W Lambert, killed in the line of duty while serving operation Iraqi freedom and became our guardian angel* on June 1, 2003." The CO gave us present arms, and we did (with our rifles - this has always been one of my favorite drill movements), and Taps played. At the end of taps, we were given order arms and CO told 1stsgt to dismiss us. We were dismissed and we all filed off to pay our last respects and offer a silent prayer at the upside-down rifle memorial. Even yours truly, the agnostic, atheist extraordinaire, said a prayer (it was for _his_ family, not me, so I guess it's OK. Just because I don't believe doesn't mean I should gyp them out of compassionate wishes.
Third, the symbolic part. When we were done paying respects, we stood or sat next to the river. I looked out and watched the sun set, and burned a cigarette for the recently departed (I smoked a Newport -- _his_ brand. I don't like newports.) and watched the water. It was a good, silent, solemn moment (a few moments, actually - about ten minutes), and then I got up to help break everything down and go to work.
the best part: The service _felt_right_. It felt perfect, like it was the kind of thing Marines would do to pay their respects to a fallen Marine. (even if we didn't get to do a gun salute - we couldn't get ahold of any blanks. Who brings blanks to war?) the 'last roll call' felt like something out of a poem (I'm sure you've read the poem where the one Marine is standing in front of god, explaining himself). It's times like tonight when being a Marine really seems to MEAN something - all that brotherhood nonsense kind of doesn't seem as much like nonsense. It's just too bad that it takes the death of one cool cat to bring it out.
Rest in peace, Jonathan W Lambert. Godspeed, fair seas and following winds.
*:(1st mardiv has this 'guardian angel' thing that the CG came up with, which is basically the buddy system at the troop level, and guards standing at each end of the formation (and one on a high place when it's possible) at the company or battalion level).