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Army Pfc. Marquis A. Whitaker

Died April 27, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


20, of Columbus, Ga.; assigned to 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk, La.; killed April 27 after falling from a bridge in Scania, Iraq. His vehicle was hit from behind by a civilian truck and left hanging off the side of the bridge. Whitaker attempted to climb out of the vehicle but fell.

Hundreds remember Columbus soldier at funeral

Associated Press

FORT BENNING, Ga. — More than 200 people gathered May 7 for the funeral of a Columbus soldier whom many described as a soft-spoken young man with a strong religious faith and love for his family.

Army Pfc. Marquis A. Whitaker died in Scania, Iraq, on April 27 after a civilian truck crashed into the back of his Humvee and pushed it partially over the side of a bridge. The 20-year-old fell while trying to climb out of the teetering vehicle.

Whitaker, who graduated from Columbus’ Kendrick High School in 2002, was sent to Iraq last July and was supposed to be home April 14, but his tour was extended for an extra 90-100 days.

“I baptized him and little did I know that in a short period of time, I would do the eulogy for him,” the Rev. Willie House Jr. told the congregation Friday at The Infantry Center Chapel, as he stood above the flag-draped coffin surrounded by flowers.

Rep. Sanford Bishop of the 2nd Congressional District praised Whitaker’s service to his country.

“He was nothing less than a hero,” Bishop said. “If it were not for men and women like Marquis giving up their lives, we could not live as a free people. This is the ugly reality of this world.”

After the ceremony, Whitaker was laid to rest at Fort Benning Cemetery.


Georgia soldier dies in vehicle accident in Iraq

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Anthony Whitaker spoke to his 20-year-old son for 30 minutes the day before he was killed in Iraq.

“He sounded in good spirits,” Whitaker said. “He was happy. He had just talked to his girlfriend.”

Pfc. Marquis A. Whitaker died April 27 in Scania, Iraq, after a civilian truck crashed into the back of his Humvee and pushed it partially over the side of a bridge. He fell while trying to climb out of the teetering vehicle.

“It was a tragic accident,” said Lt. Col. Stan Smith, casualty assistance officer with the Pentagon.

Whitaker joined the Army after graduating from Kendrick High School two years ago. In November 2002, he began basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He eventually became a motor transport operator assigned to Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Polk, La.

He was sent to Iraq in July and was supposed to be home April 14, but his tour was extended for an extra 90-100 days. By November, he had hoped to be in Germany.

He met Tarai Brown, a certified nurse assistant in Tallahassee, Fla., on the Internet just after he joined the Army.

“We were going to get married when he got back,” said Brown, 19. “We talked about it all the time. He called me his wife.”

Whitaker was not afraid, his father said.

“He had faith in the Lord,” Anthony Whitaker said. A member of Prospect AME Church in Fortson, Ga., Marquis left Columbus with a small Bible.

“It showed you where to look for verses when you’re worried or scared,” the elder Whitaker said.

The longest the Whitakers ever went without talking to their son was three weeks.

“It was hard,” said Tanya Whitaker, Marquis’ stepmother. “We were always on edge. We watched CNN every night, fearing the worst.”

-- Associated Press

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