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Marine Cpl. Christopher Belchik

Died August 22, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

30, of Jersey, Ill.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed Aug. 22 by enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq.

Before he could join the Marine Corps, Christopher Belchik had to pass a high school equivalency exam and lose about 30 pounds. Then in boot camp, he was up against men much younger than he was. "When he decided he wanted something, then by golly he was going to get it," said his father, Stephen. "He didn't believe in getting things the easy way." Belchik, 30, of Alton, Ill., died Aug. 22 in an attack in Iraq's Anbar province. He was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. As a kid, Belchik was mischievous – a few times, his parents caught him sneaking out of the house through a window after curfew. He dropped out of high school and began a series of jobs that included working as a bus boy and hoisting mortar for bricklayers. Eventually, he decided he wanted to become a Marine and hoped to have a career in law enforcement. He wed Mary Hamberg in June. "We just couldn't believe when he met her, the turnaround in him," his father said. "He was a good man, a good husband, a terrific son and I'm going to miss him dearly."

— Associated Press

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