KIA June 20, 2006
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan
Marine Cpl. Christopher David Leon died June 20, 2006 when he was struck by a sniper’s bullet while he and the other members of his company were on a rooftop protecting Army troops patrolling the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed were Marine LCpl Brandon J. Webb, Marine PFC Christopher N. White, and Marine SSgt Benjamin D. Williams.
Chris signed up for the Marines during his junior year of high school and left for boot camp in San Diego shortly after his graduation in June 2004. He and his fiancée, Aimey, planned to be married in December 2006. Chris loved the camaraderie, the high sense of purpose, and the physically demanding regimen of the corps. He excelled in the martial arts program and was part of a specialized unit trained in the dangerous and difficult task of guiding fire support for infantry troops. Chris’s mother, Kathie, said that her son died “doing work that he wanted to do,” which was the protection of comrades in arms and innocent Iraqis.
Marines can be stoic to the point of being tight-lipped, but Chris was not that way in communicating his affection and respect for his parents. E-mails that he sent from Iraq made plain his feelings about his mother and father, “I want to tell you how much I appreciate the attributes you gave to me, to make me a man able to defend my country.” Chris kept a journal and took photographs intending that someday he would work on a book with a tentative title such as ‘Love and War’.
Cpl. Leon also believed in God and reassured his mother that he was on ‘speaking terms with his Savior’, she related, laughing at the memory. She had said to him, “I want you to know the Lord,” and Chris responded with, “When I go, I know where I’m going. We’re on a first-name basis, Mom. I call him ‘Jesus,’ and he calls me ‘Chris.’
Cpl. Christopher Leon was 20 years old from Lancaster, CA
Original portrait was presented December 19, 2014 to his mother during a special event hosted by Fleetwood-Fibre Packaging in City of Industry, CA
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