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By Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr., USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 27, 2007 - The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps made a quick stop at Camp Eggers yesterday and passed a message from a modern-day Marine Corps hero's family to Marines serving in and around Afghanistan's capital city.
Marine Gen. Robert Magnus was on the move throughout the country, but made it a point to praise leathernecks here and to pass on a message from Debra Dunham, the mother of New York Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism in Iraq.
"Deb Dunham asked me to bring a simple three-part message," Magnus said.
"First, 'Thank you.'" the second-ranking Marine said. "Now this is a 'Gold Star Mother' saying thank you, so she knows exactly what she's thanking you for." Mothers of American military men and women killed in combat have been referred to as Gold Star Mothers since the early 1900s.
"Second, keep doing what you're doing. Keep doing your mission," Magnus said. "She knows that your mission is fundamentally important.
"I want your family to someday feel as comfortable as they felt on Sept. 10, 2001," he added.
"The third part of the message is, 'Please take care of each other,'" the general said. "That's exactly what Corporal Dunham was doing when he was on his mission."
The general briefly spoke about Dunham's heroic act in saving the lives of his fellow Marines in Iraq when he covered a grenade, which ultimately cost him his life.
Magnus told the Marines that he recognized the difficulty in being away from family during the holidays, but told them that it is good to be with their Marine Corps family as an alternative.
"This is a great time to be a warrior and a Marine," he said. "You are God's gift to your family. ... The Marine Corps is God's gift to the United States ... and to the Afghan people and the Iraqi people."
He also reminded the Marines that it is important for them to consider serving an additional combat tour, or staying in the Marine Corps longer, as well as to encourage young Marines to do the same.
"Your Marine Corps is at war. Your buddies are at war," Magnus said. "You know why you're here now. You're here to help these people win back their neighborhoods and so we don't have another 9/11, and you know that.
"This mission is not over by a long shot, and you know that," the general added.
Webmasters Note: General Magnus is a Life Member of the Marine Corps League, Westchester County Detachment, New York