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As we mentioned, the 14 Marines who were killed today were part of the same battalion that lost six Marines on Monday. The 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines is based in Ohio in the Cleveland suburb of Brook Park. From member station WCPN, Renita Jablonski reports.
RENITA JABLONSKI reporting:
Many of these small bungalow homes in the neighborhood around Headquarters and Service Company 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines are decorated with red, white and blue ribbons. Flags spill from porches barely moving in the 90-degree heat. Brook Park Mayor Mark Elliott says the community is still in shock.
Mayor MARK ELLIOTT (Brook Park, Ohio): The first report were the six Marines that had lost their lives; that was very difficult and shocking to the town. And then when we woke up this morning and saw that there's another report of 14 others, that's just stunning.
JABLONSKI: About three and a half hours south of Brook Park, Martins Ferry Police Chief Barry Carpenter says the news still doesn't seem real.
Chief BARRY CARPENTER (Martins Ferry Police Department): I always thought that--based on his demeanor and his attitude, that if anybody was going to come back from Iraq unscathed, it would have been Nate.
JABLONSKI: Carpenter says he's haunted by his last conversations with Sergeant Nathaniel Rock. The 26-year-old Rock was a Martins Ferry police office and among the 21 Marines killed in the last three days. Carpenter says he talked to Rock several times since he arrived in Iraq at the beginning of March.
Chief CARPENTER: He had some young guys in his platoon that he was kind of concerned for because of some of the things they witnessed. He was a little higher maturity level, but he was kind of concerned with some of the things they witnessed; it really bothered them. And he always said, you know, it was real tough what they were involved with and, you know, fighting them insurgents, and they were a very active company and that they suffered a high casualty rate.
JABLONSKI: Rock was on a Marine sniper team mounting simultaneous assaults in an area along the Euphrates River known for insurgent activity.
Jeffrey Boscovitch was also part of the team killed Monday. James Boscovitch says his son also wanted to be a police officer.
Mr. JAMES BOSCOVITCH (Father): He was due to come home the end of September. He had wanted to get married. He wanted to become engaged to his girlfriend and get married the following year--saved up enough money to buy a house and basically get on with his life.
JABLONSKI: But Boscovitch says his son was fully committed to the military mission in Iraq, even if it cost him his life.
Mr. BOSCOVITCH: He is truly my hero. He was probably a poster child for the Marine Corps and didn't enter the Marine Corps with any false illusions of what was going to be expected of him. It wasn't a glamorous-type thing.
JABLONSKI: At headquarters for 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Rush is among those charged with notifying local families of losses. Rush says before he leaves for a family's home to deliver news of a death, he practices what he's going to say in his office in front of another Marine.
Lieutenant Colonel KEVIN RUSH (3rd Battalion, 25th Marines): You can't just go up there cold and knock on the door and have all your thoughts together.
JABLONSKI: As Rush helps organize more notifications, he says he has to remind himself the visits are part of the business.
Lt. Col. RUSH: You can't let it just seep inside you and devastate you. When a battalion is over in Iraq fighting and in combat on a daily basis, you know these things can happen. And if you let each and every casualty, whether wounded or killed in action--if you let it get to you, even back here, you'll never survive.
JABLONSKI: A Marine Corps spokesman says the military is still notifying families of those killed today and will not release names until that process is complete. For NPR News, I'm Renita Jablonski in Cleveland.
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