News Journal 06/08/06:
Subordinate mourns decorated Marine
By Carl Hunnell
AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- Lt. Chris Kaprielian arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona in 2004, about two weeks before Maj. Michael D. Stover checked in for duty.
It didn't take long for the young Marine officer to realize he was in the presence of an outstanding leader.
"(Stover) was like a father to our (operations) section. The amount of knowledge he brought in from his prior experiences in the Marine Corps was incredible. Like a father, he looked out for the men in his command. And like a father, he was very demanding," Kaprielian, 26, told the News Journal on Wednesday.
That leadership made Saturday's death of Stover in Iraq that much harder to take for Kaprielian and other members of the Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, a component of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The 43-year-old Mansfield native, who enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Malabar High School in 1980, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Marine Capt. Capt. Beatriz Yarrish.
Stover, recently selected to be promoted to lieutenant colonel, was in the middle of his second tour in the war-torn Middle East country within the last 18 months.
"The whole thing just shocks me," Kaprielian said.
Stover, who served in Iraq with the 371st for seven months in 2005, had been home for just three months when he was temporarily assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 in December.
The California-based unit, deploying to Iraq in February, needed an executive officer, and Stover was it.
"It was not fun seeing him go, I'll tell you that," Kaprielian said. "He was such a great asset for us. I can only assume he was needed elsewhere.
"Work was his life. We worked really long hours here. I don't know a man who worked as hard as he did. He would just press and press and press," Kaprielian said.
News of Stover's death spread quickly around his former air base in Arizona.
"Major Stover had a big following here. Anyone who knew him even briefly knew he was a good Marine. If he was here today and asked us to go with him anywhere in the world, we'd all go," Kaprielian said.
Stover, who earned a journalism degree from The Ohio State University in 1990 before accepting a commission, was the son of LaVern "Smokey" and Doris (Mullins) Stover, both of whom preceded him in death.
He is survived by one sister and brother-in-law, Cheryl Elaine (Stover) and Kim Meister of Mansfield; a brother, Maj. Edward Allen Stover (retired) of Mansfield; two nephews, Gabriel (Holly) Meister and Rory Meister, all of Columbus; two great nieces, Abigail and Grace Meister; aunts and uncles, Harris A. (Jeanne) Stover of Vienna, Va., Harley Stover of Conrad, Iowa, Laurence (LaVonne) Stover of Marshalltown, Iowa, Merle (Arthur) Gelles of Florida, and Lucy (Ed) Klug of Madison, Wis.,; and numerous cousins.
Calling hours are Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Ontario Home of Wappner Funeral Directors. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Berean Baptist Church, 2145 Middle Bellville Road, conducted by the Rev. David Pound. Military graveside services will follow in Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery.
Originally published June 8, 2006