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Filling a Heroes Uniform

Marc Lee would have been 30 years-old today

March 19, 2008 — I began my morning with my normal routine of making a pot of coffee and turning on FOX news to see the day’s issues. This morning President Bush was addressing this nation and remembering the sacrifices and the successes that this nation has experienced for the past five years since the War on Terror began in Iraq.

I remember that day well and knew this would be a very personal war to me. My oldest son Kristofer was one of “The few, the proud, the Marines.” My son-in-law Christopher was an Officer serving in the Army and was already on his way to Iraq, my youngest son Marc was in BUDS training to become a Navy SEAL, my brother Jim was in the Air Force Reserves and I had cousin who was an Officer in the Marines. I had no idea at that point how personal and emotional this war would be.

Each one of these young men served in different branches of the Military, wore a different uniform, went to different lengths to train and prepare to be the warriors they are. I have pictures of each one of them in their different uniforms both dress and cammies. It is true there is something special about a man in uniform.

My daughter-in-law, Maya, had recently shipped Marc’s uniforms to me. I’ve just picked them up off of the bed to hang them in the closet. As I pick it up the tears began to stream down my cheeks as I think of the Hero, my son, who wore it. I bring it close to my nose and take a deep breath hoping that by some odd chance I can still catch a hint of his smell on the garment. My mind wanders as I remember the tall, dark and very handsome young man who was the youngest of my three children, my baby, who filled this uniform so well.

Marc Alan Lee was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq August 2, 2006. He was one of the sacrifices that the President had talked today as he addressed the nation. I personally know the cost and pain of war and yet still believe the war is worth fighting, the War is worth winning.

That extremely hot August day in 2006, Marc was wearing a different uniform than the one I‘m holding. He had his desert cammies on along with well over 150 lbs of gear and ammunition. He was the big gunner for his platoon and his teammates retold the stories of how he carried the M60 without a sling. They had never seen anything like that and were amazed at his strength.

They were in the biggest battle since the war began and had been in the firefight for 2 hours when Marc single handedly stood up in the direct line of fire and shot off over 100 rounds of ammunition. Three times that day, Marc would stand out in the direct line of fire to defend his buddies, for you, for me, for this nation. Marc was a young man who selflessly gave his life because he valued others lives more important than his own.

I look at this uniform flat, lying there on my lap, empty. The fabric isn’t anything special, what made it special was the hero who filled it. He filled it with determination, humor, love, commitment, courage, faith, and hope. No one could ever fill this uniform like he did. It is a reminder of who he was. I will display it in my “Heroes” room, to pay tribute and honor Marc. As a Mother, I am so proud of Marc’s sacrifice that he gave in Ramadi. He was one of those who made Al Anbar province one of the success stories of the War on Terror.

Where do we get such brave men to fill these uniforms? Marc’s name means “Mighty Warrior” and God designs each one of us for a certain purpose, to wear a specific uniform. Our men and women in the Armed forces are designed that way. Each one of my family members who served filled their uniforms in there own unique ways, yet the character qualities duplicated themselves, honor, courage, determination, commitment, love, faith, hope. Each one of them started fulfilling their calling by entering a recruiting office. Their recruiters coached and counseled them to accomplish their goals and dreams. It is appalling to me to watch the news as the anti-war, anti-American crowd continues to attack these recruiting offices. I was just in DC last week with Move America Forward to release our “Sedition Report” that reveals a pattern of bombings, broken windows, shootings, and destruction of recruiting offices in over 42 cities. The report can be viewed at

It angers and repulses me that these hateful, violent, aggressive “peace activists” continue to say they support the troops. If this is how they “Support them,” I would hate to see their actions if they did not. They continue to tell us that our troops are liars, murderers, and rapists. How dare they dishonor my sons name and his memory with their lies, to accomplish their agenda?

I was embedded with the 1-4 CAV in Iraq at Christmas and I saw our troops fill their uniforms with the same brave, courageous, noble and professionalism that both my sons Marc and Kristofer did. I am proud of the character they displayed and the determination they showed. There voices echoed repeatedly that this war is worth fighting and it is winnable.

As a Navy SEAL, Marc endured the notorious “Hell week” and trained intensely for 2 years before he was deployed. When I met with President Bush he said the SEALS were “the elite of the elite.” The unique individual can survive the intense training to become a SEAL and wear the uniform. The preparation is intense and much is required from them. Marc was ready, trained and prepared to fill the uniform and accomplish what was required of him when he deployed to Iraq. His Instructors knew that, his Officers new that, his teammates knew that, I knew that and God knew that.

I know that day that he left this earth he was escorted into Heaven by the Angles, and I will see him again. I also know that I have a uniform that I must fill. It’s different than Marc’s yet I am also called to be a warrior in another battle. Just as Marc was prepared by the intense training for the battles that lie ahead, God has also prepared me. The previous struggles and trials of life had convinced me that I didn’t have the strength in myself to succeed. God had proved his character repeatedly to me during the “Hell weeks” of life, and I knew he was my strength and that he had trained and equipped me to succeed in the battle of grief.

Just as this past 5 years in Iraq, we have seen sacrifice and we have seen successes. Life is the same way, but we must remember that it’s worth fighting for and worth winning. Do you know where your uniform is? Are you willing to fill it? Do you know who gives you the strength? Are you willing to stand in the gap and fight the battles that you are asked to? We are all blessed to live in America and enjoy the freedoms that we have because of all of those who have fought for those freedoms.

Please, as we reflect today on the 5th anniversary of the War on Terror, join with me to honor Marc and all of those sons and daughters, husbands and wives, who have given the ultimate sacrifice and their families. They stood to the end for their brothers at arms; will you stand with me and carry on and fight for those who continue to serve and for this country?

Tomorrow, would have been Marc’s 30th Birthday. Just before Marc deployed to Iraq he came home for his 28th Birthday and we celebrated at the Royals/White Sox spring training game. After the 7th inning, the reader board displayed my wishes to him “Happy 28th Birthday Marc. Have a safe deployment. Love, Mom!”

I will throw out the first ball tomorrow at the Royals/Brewers game in his honor. I will be celebrating the amazing kid who filled that Heroes Uniform with all that he was. I know that if he could he would send me a message on the reader board saying, “I love you Mom, have a safe deployment.”

Editor’s note — Marc Lee died fighting to defend this nation and to provide the people of Iraq an opportunity to be free. Please, think of him today, say a prayer for his mom and family, and support Vets for Freedom as they cross our nation on the way to Washington, D.C., telling of why his sacrifice should not be left in vain.

Courage in the Night

“I have seen amazing things happen here…” — Marc Lee, letter from Iraq, July 2006

Click here to learn more about Aviation Ordinanceman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marc A. Lee

Courage in the Night
By Debbie Lee
Proud Mother of Marc Alan Lee
First Navy SEAL killed in Iraq

It was a warm August evening in Surprise, Arizona and a small group of friends had gathered as they regularly did on Wednesday evenings. This Wednesday was different as we were celebrating my birthday, which was a week earlier but we weren’t able to get together that week. One of my friends had given me one of the Willow Tree Angels named “Courage.” When she gave it to me, she told me that it reminded her of me. She told me “To her I was a Woman of Courage.”

None of us knew at that moment how much courage would be required for me to survive that night what was about to happen that would change my life forever. As we were finishing cake and ice cream, I received what would be the most devastating phone call of my life. My oldest son Kristofer had called asking where I was and how long it would take me to get home. When I questioned why he said, “You just need to come home.” I had a sick feeling in my being and I knew what faced me ahead. I knew that when I arrived home that I would be informed that my youngest son Marc had died, being the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq.

Something inside of me knew when Marc left my home in March of 2006 that he wouldn’t be returning and that would be the last time I would see him. I’m not a fearful, worrisome type of person and I didn’t dwell on that while he was deployed, but somehow I knew. Eighteen months has passed since that dreadful day and as I pondered what part of my trip to Iraq to write about, courage came to mind again. I have wanted to make a journey to Iraq since Marc died, but I wanted to wait for a time when the journey would be safe. Realistically I figured that journey would be many years down the road.

When Move America Forward began to make preparations for our third cross country tour this year, “Honoring Heroes at the Holidays,” I was excited to learn that we would be collecting Christmas Cards to send to the troops and that our rallies in 40 cities would have one goal, to honor our troops who have served and are serving. This would be my third tour with MAF and I was honored to have the privilege to be able to publicly thank our troops and encourage others to do the same.

I knew there was something else in the works beside the tour and when I heard that there was a possibility of a press embed and that I might actually be able to deliver some of the cards to our heroes in Iraq. I was amazed! It would have been easy when I was asked if I wanted to go to say no and bow out and stay home, everyone would understand. After all, it still is a war zone and my son had been killed there. It took strength and courage to make the decision to travel to the war zone where my son gave up his life, courage that was given to me from God above.

We had no idea where would be embedded in Iraq, but I knew that if by some odd chance the doors opened for us to go, I needed to be there. I knew personally what our troops had given and sacrificed for me, for you, for this nation and I wanted to personally thank our men and women who were willing to give their lives for this country they so loved and believed in. I left it in God’s hands and asked him to open the doors if I was supposed to be there and slam them if I wasn’t.

Courage was my companion the night I boarded the C-130 from Kuwait to Baghdad that purposely made the craziest cork-screw landing you can imagine to avoid being shot down by terrorists. It took courage to fly over the city of Baghdad in a Blackhawk as we looked down on the city where Saddam once reigned. It took courage the night we rode in the streets of Baghdad in the MRAP knowing that I had been instructed not to travel by ground because of the IED dangers. It took courage to put on my body armor and Kevlar, to go out on patrol in the Muhalla, and to walk the streets with the 1-4 Cav unit that we were embedded with. It took courage to stumble to the command post in the middle of the night in my “jammies” to find out what we should do after the explosion that woke me from a dead sleep and even moved the air around my face. It took courage to tell Marc’s heroic story to 350 troops ready to head home for R&R. It took courage to board the Blackhawk in the middle of the night on a secret flight to Camp Marc Lee, the base in western Iraq named in my son’s honor. It took courage that night to walk where Marc walked his last steps, to see where he spent his last night, to smell what he smelled, to see what he saw and to embrace what he embraced.

Yet it was in the depth of the night there at Camp Marc Lee that I was reminded what real courage is. Real courage was what our troops — my heroes — face everyday. Real courage is being willing to give up your right to every thing you want for your future, your memories from your past, and even, if need be, your life to make a better place for others. Real courage is facing the enemy and being willing to pay the ultimate price because you value others lives more important than your own. Real courage is using your voice, your actions, your life, to impact the world and make a difference. Real courage is selfless, noble, true, humble, right, and honorable. That is the description of our men and women serving in Iraq. I witnessed it first hand. I had the blessing to share Christmas and thank thousands of our troops while I was in Iraq and numerous times they would look at me and say, “It’s my honor,” “I love what I do,” or “No, thank you.”

Click here to learn more of Move America Forward's trip to Iraq and to view more photos

Our mainstream media continues to try to discredit our troops and make them out to be murderers and rapists. They distort the statistics and try to brainwash us. I saw first hand on my recent trip to Iraq the moral excellence, integrity and the compassion with which our troops serve. I saw courage displayed in its finest forms.

It’s now time for Americans at home to display that same courage, to stand up for what you believe in and know is right, to get out of your lazy boy and make a difference, to call or write your Senator or Congressman, and to vote. Courage, to write a letter to your editor, to expose the lies and confront liberal groups such as Code Pink, ANSWER, and others who support terrorists and radical communistic ideals, and to hold the media accountable. Courage, to tell the successes of our troops and what they have accomplished, to defend the defenseless, and to replace our apathy with action.

My Willow Tree Angel of Courage sits on my desk with her arms lifted high and fists clenched in victory, as if to say, YES! As a nation that was founded on God’s principles we need to raise our hands high in courage and fight against those who want to remove our freedoms and rights. We need to raise our hands high and thank the one who created us and blessed us to be born in this amazing nation.

Editor’s note — This post was bumped to the top, this Memorial Day, as it was first published here on March 10, 2008.

——Editors: Please also see the following.——

Letter from the First Navy Seal Killed in Iraq
Berkeley Mayor Bates Joined Code Pink in Picketing Marine Recruiting Center
Debbie Lee, Gold Star Mom — An Open Letter to the Mayor Of Berkeley