Mentor Remembers Soldier Killed In Iraq

Monday, March 12th 2007, 8:46 am
By: News On 6

Another casualty of the war in Iraq has ties to Tulsa. Private First Class Chad Marsh was killed last month by an insurgent grenade attack in Baghdad. Marsh was from Wichita, but was very much a part of a Tulsa family too. The News On 6's Heather Lewin reports Marsh was part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as a child, and the Tulsa man who became his big brother stayed in his life and is now grieving his death.

They were a perfect match, a little boy who wanted to be in law enforcement and an officer turned FBI agent with years of experience under his belt.

“He was the most polite young man I've ever seen," said Marsh’s Big Brother mentor Duke Earl.

Earl says he and his wife weren't even sure they wanted kids until they spent some time with 9-year-old Chad. Without a living father, Chad became part of the Earl family over the years, visiting them in Tulsa after his proudest accomplishment, becoming a soldier.

“That was his lifelong dream, to join the military, spend some time in the military, then eventually become a police officer,” said Earl. “We knew that going into the military, there was a chance that he was gonna go into harm's way. But I knew that he was a good soldier, he took his training seriously."

Earl was stunned when the call came.

"Bottom of your stomach falls out,” he said. “It was something I wasn't expecting at all. My wife said she had premonitions that something bad might happen, I never did. It was a real shock."

Earl says his grief was eased by being able to share his memories at Chad's funeral.

“He was always fun, full of energy, I can't recall a time when he was down or anything sad or upset, he was just a fun guy to be around," he said.

Earl was especially touched when Chad's mother gave him the Gold Star, given to families of soldiers killed in action.

“It was very moving, I don't want to say I'm proud, I didn't do anything to earn this, Chad earned it, but I'm very proud to wear it," said Earl. “He lived a good life, touched people while he was here and he's in Heaven waiting for us.”

Marsh was 20-years-old. Earl says if it weren't for the positive experience of adopting a little brother like Marsh, he might not have had a family of his own.