A sailor from Oregon died this week while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense and his family members.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A. Lee, 28, of Hood River was killed Aug. 2, as he entered a building with his team during a fierce battle against insurgents.
Lee was an aviation ordnanceman and a member of a West Coast-based Navy SEAL team, the military said.
Lee''s family told The Oregonian newspaper that he became a SEAL in 2004 and headed to Iraq last March.
U.S. Navy officers told his mother, Debbie Lee, that her son died minutes after he single-handedly held off enemy fighters as his team rescued a soldier wounded on a rooftop by a sniper.
Lee told the newspaper that she has for a long time described her son by simply quoting from the Bible''s Gospel of John.
"Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends," Debbie Lee recited during a phone interview Friday night from her home in Surprise, Ariz.
The Navy said Marc Lee has been awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for heroism, the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon for his actions in the battle.
Marc Lee leaves behind a wife, Maya.
Born in Portland, Marc Lee lived in Hood River for most of his childhood, graduating from Baptist Christian School 10 years ago.
In letters home, Lee never expressed regrets about taking the path or doubts about U.S. operations in Iraq.
"He felt strongly that people wanted him there," Debbie Lee said. "He told me how people cried for our military to save them from some horrific stuff."
According to the count compiled by Gov. Ted Kulongoski''s office, Lee is the 65th person either from Oregon or with strong ties to the state to have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In one of the last letters he sent before his death, a Navy SEAL wrote that his duty in Iraq made him appreciate America even more.
"I have felt fear at some of the things I have seen here," wrote U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc A. Lee. "I have seen amazing things and sad things."
But being in Iraq, he added, "makes me realize what a great country we have."
Lee''s brother, Kris, read the letter at a memorial service this weekend at the Hood River Expo Center. More than 600 people heard Lee eulogized as son, husband, brother, uncle, warrior, American and Christian.
Lee, 28, was killed Aug. 2 in a firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq. A member of a Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL team, Lee was one of the first members of the elite group to be killed in Iraq.
U.S. Navy officers told Debbie Lee that her son died after single-handedly holding off enemy fighters as his team rescued a wounded soldier from a rooftop.
SEALs rely on each other like brothers, so it is no surprise that Lee gave his life saving his brothers, said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who represents Hood River, where Lee grew up, and was one of about a dozen speakers.
Boyhood best friend Chris Wells, who later joined Marc Lee''s family when he married Lee''s sister, Cheryl, said, "Marc was my best friend, my brother-in-law, my children''s uncle, and now my hero."
Officiating pastor Doug Iverson said: "He left as a boy, and he become a true warrior. He was not a perfect man. Not perfect but perfected in God."
Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees of the Oregon National Guard, representing Gov. Ted Kulongoski, gave Debbie Lee a Gold Star banner. Kulongoski, who has vowed to attend the funeral of all active duty military personnel from Oregon, attended Lee''s funeral and burial two weeks ago at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, Calif.
Lee is survived by his wife, Maya Elbaum; mother, Debra Lee; sister, Cheryl Wells; and brother, Kris.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com
Marc A. Lee staged a diversion in a moment of crisis. He reportedly made the decision to sacrifice his life after another SEAL was hit by sniper fire and several men were trapped inside a building.
"It was so like Marc to give up his life to save his friends. I am so proud of him _ he is my hero," said his mother, Debbie Lee.
Lee, 28, of Hood River, Ore., was killed Aug. 2 during a shootout in Ramadi. Lee, who was home schooled for much of his education, joined the Navy in 2001 and was based at Coronado.
He also is survived by his wife, Maya.
"Marc was amazing. He was my best friend, my love," she said.
Besides being an avid soccer player during and after high school, Marc Lee loved skiing and weightlifting, his mother said. He also had a seemingly constant sense of humor.
"Marc touched lives everywhere he went because of the person that he was. He will be missed," she said.
It was only after her youngest child was born that Debbie Lee was flipping through a book of baby names and saw one of the meanings for Marc: "mighty warrior."
She said, "That fits."
Published in The Washington Post on Aug. 8, 2006.