Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Megan M McClung

Coupeville, Washington

December 6, 2006

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
34 Marine Maj

I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, I MEF

Camp Pendleton , California

 Killed while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq .

Arlington Cemetery

MEMORIAL FOR MAJOR M. MCCLUNG 9 DEC 06 CAMP RAMADI, IRAQ

COL MacFarland, Command Sergeant Major, distinguished guests, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

Today – this very moment of December 9th 2006, -- in a far, far better place where there is no hatred, no smallness of thought, no violent ignorance, no brutal losses, and no caustic humanity there is a shining spirit, alive, vibrant and flowing. Her crimson mane moves as she moves. She is completely free and gracefully soaring - as only angels can be.

Major Megan Malia McClung is now in a far, far better place. She suffers not. And, while our grieving for her is very personal, our remembrance of her enables all of us -- as individuals -- to come together as the Ready First Team. In her passing Major McClung does what she did in life – she brings people together to create a better understanding.

Her friend, Major Player, provided us a review of her record of achievement and Major McClung’s abilities.

But, what can’t be replicated here or fully comprehended in the written word is the way this Marine attacked life, like she attacked -- entering a room. If you never saw it you missed something magical and motivating. You could almost expect to hear, “Marine Major Megan Malia McClung coming in!” … “And with a helluva good attitude!” That is how she burst through a hatch. She could not just simply enter a room. She bounced and bounded in -- ready to meet anyone and anything with an optimistic tenacity that intimated some, but inspired many.

She was a warrior and that is why we love her, we honor her and we remember her today.

She was a shipmate and a proud graduate of the United States Naval Academy, class of 1995. Go Navy. Beat Army. 

She was a scholar, having achieved her masters’ degree in criminal justice from Boston University.

She was a polished public affairs professional having received numerous accolades for her ability to communicate complex thoughts and issues to various and diverse audiences across the globe.

She was a citizen patriot and, as a reserve Marine, aggressively volunteered service to country, seeking to be in harm’s way where she could make a difference. She relished her assignment to the Ready First Combat Team.

She was a runner who would pound her body for 26 miles only to be smiling and laughing for the last .2 egging on her fellow runners with taunts of good sportsmanship.

She was a daughter, loving and kind. She was a woman, strong and beautiful. And she was, to many here – a dear, dear friend. 

What made many admire her most of all was that she was, plain and simple, a Marine leader passionately dedicated to mission accomplishment and troop welfare.

She told her friends, “Before we leave here we will make Al Anbar a safer place.” She accomplished her mission. She did make Al Anbar a safer place because she had the ability to communicate the good being done here. She was able to work with the members of the media so that they – and their viewers, listeners and readers -- understood the immense challenges here, the immense sacrifice here and great reward for service here … and why for us here – and for our Nation -- service above self matters so very much. This Marine lived by personal example and communicated to the world what John Stuart Mill wrote two centuries ago. Her life and his words ring so true today – He wrote: 

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Major McClung was free. Free from anxiety, free from fear, free from want, free from anyone or anything who might mistakenly think they could stop her or stand in her way.

A local gentleman expressed interest in marrying her. He said she was amazing. He said her hair was like fire and that she was like fire. He said he would like to marry, but he didn't think he could control her. This was a very wise man.

Prior to serving the Ready First she supported the MEF headquarters where Major McClung hit MNF-West running! She was the Media and Plans Officer, responsible for upwards of 25 media members throughout the entire MEF AO at any given time. She ran, pounding out 40 miles a week. She attended Arabic language classes at lunchtime. And she was a leader and mentor for junior soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Major McClung could be counted upon to provide the insightful guidance both up and down the chain of command regarding complicated issues. Her seniors, peers and juniors at MEF recall her at the ready, willing to tackle any other task or mission thrown her way. She never complained, she never faltered and she never quit. 

Her friends aboard Camp Fallujah remember her as an inspiration to everyone she met. Energetic – almost frantic at times. They recall her having only two speeds; high speed or off. They recall that she always had a smile and a kind of “little sister” sense of humor that would make other people smile. 

Even though she loved to laugh Major McClung had a serious side that showed when it was needed. While in Falujah some young warriors, fresh from mission, worn out, nasty, grimy and tired were almost turned away from a dining facility by a well-meaning but priority confused, common sense-deficient person manning the door, denying them entry.

Major McClung interjected and ensured the worn-out, fatigued, stinking, filthy patriots got hot chow due to her force of personality and her unfailing and instantaneous knowledge of what matters most -- mission accomplishment and troop welfare.

She brought that passion, personality and persistence to the Ready First. Today, this Combat Team remembers Major McClung’s strong leadership. We Marines remember an officer of Marines who was a warrior.

This is tough day. But perhaps the following words will allow us some solace as we remember Major Megan Malia McClung and go forward – as valiantly as she did – and make Al Anbar a safer place.

We can picture her saying to us:
Do not stand at my grave and weep:
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow;
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight;
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry:
I am not there. I did not die.

Our Ready First Marine did not die. She lives on in a better place now -- laughing, running, and leading.

We miss her. We honor her. We love her.

We remember Marine Major Megan Malia McClung. Semper Fidelis & Ready First.
John C. Church, Jr.
LtCol USMC
9 Dec 2006 Camp Ramadi, Iraq

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