MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A memorial was held at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field Oct. 17 at 5:00 p.m. for a fallen Marine killed on duty in support of Operation Iraq Freedom.
Capt. Justin D. Peterson, a native of Davisburg, Mich., was a 32-year-old supply officer assigned to 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He had been stationed in 29 Palms since June 2005 and deployed to Iraq in April 2006.
Peterson was killed Oct. 1 in a non-combat vehicle accident in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia, his parents, Dale and Ginna Peterson, and his children 6-year-old Jared, 2-year-old Jayden and 6-month-old Catlin, who was born only three days before his deployment. He is also survived by his siblings Joshua, Charity, Joy, and Jordan.
“He’ll be missed,” said Sgt. Roy Garza, a warehouse clerk who worked with Peterson eight months before deployment. “He was a good man and he was always smiling.”
Peterson was inspired to become a Marine at a young age by his grandfather, Don Woodworth, who was a Warrant Officer in the Marine Corps. The family’s link with the Marine Corps is still in tact, for Peterson’s 21-year-old brother, Joshua, is also a Marine in the Marine Corps Reserves. Peterson was also the son of a Baptist Minister and a man of tremendous faith.
Peterson was notorious for smoking cigars and staying late at work while constantly sketching lists and blueprints onto napkins. He conducted wall-to-wall inventory in less than six months, and was always eagerly searching for new ways to improve the supply shop.
“He liked to get his hands dirty right alongside his men,” said Lt. Col. Jim Stopa, the battalion commanding officer.” Stopa said that his work ethic and attention to detail were critical and that Peterson believed his assignment was an honor. “The call came to arms and he stepped forward,” said Stopa.
Though several Marines spoke on Peterson’s behalf at the ceremony, they all touched on the fact that he was a wonderful family man.
“One great thing about him was what a balance he struck,” said Major Lee M. Rush, the battalion executive-officer. “He was a strong family man and a great Marine. His desire to serve and sacrifice and contribute was immense.”
Master Sgt. Darrell A. Williams agreed.
“He was a hard worker who was dedicated to his family,” said Williams. “He had so much knowledge of his job. If there were more officers like him in the Corps, there’d be fewer problems.”
Stopa, in his speech to the crowd, said that one word came to mind when he thought about the loss of Peterson: sacrifice.
Rush received the same impression.
“It’s good knowing that if he had to do it all again, the warrior in him would do it all the same way. He wouldn’t have traded with anyone.”