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Marine Cpl. Christopher D. Bordoni

Died April 3, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

21, of Ithaca, N.Y.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died April 3 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained Jan. 18, 2012, while conducting combat operations.

Lejeune E-4 hurt in Helmand blast dies

By Rachel Stern and Matt Hayes
The Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal

A Camp Lejeune, N.C., corporal who was seriously wounded three months ago in Afghanistan has died, the Defense Department confirmed April 5.

Marine Cpl. Christopher D. Bordoni, 21, of Ithaca, N.Y., died April 3, according to his family and the military.

Bordoni, assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, died at San Antonio Military Medical Center, where he had been receiving treatment since January. His wife, mother, father, brother and sister were by his side when he died, said Robin Webb, his mother-in-law.

Bordoni will be brought back to Ithaca and will have a military funeral service, Webb said.

“The community support has been heartfelt and very, very much appreciated by Chris and his family,” Webb said. “He is a true hero.”

Bordoni was injured Jan. 18 while serving in Helmand province, the military said. He was sent to a hospital in Germany and was then transferred to San Antonio to receive treatment.

He grew up in the Ithaca area and graduated from Ithaca High School. His mother, Carol Sprague, lives in Lansing, and his father, Tim Bordoni, lives in Ithaca.

Bordoni joined the Marines after high school and was deployed to Afghanistan for a second time in April 2011. According to his family, he was on patrol in the Kajaki district when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle entered the area. It was reported that several civilians, military personnel and police were injured and killed, according to the family’s statement.

Since Bordoni was injured in January, there has been an outpouring of support from the Ithaca community. Several fundraisers to support the Bordoni family have been held. In February, more than 1,200 people filled the Eagles Club and raised nearly $40,000 during a spaghetti dinner.

A benefit scheduled for April 21 will still go on as planned, said Ted Townsend, the event’s organizer and friend of the Bordoni family. “There’s no quitting when we’re halfway up the stream,” he said. “We’re doing it for the family, for his memory, for his honor.”

Having the community come together can only help the healing process, Townsend said. In the face of tragedy, “there’s no better place than this town.”

Businesses donated more than $14,000 in prizes for a raffle, with tickets still being sold. The chicken for 1,000 dinners has been donated, along with most of the other food and supplies. The meal is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 21 at the American Legion. All funds raised from the $7 meal will benefit the family, with the funds going to an account at Tompkins Trust Company set up to benefit the family, Townsend said.

“Just to have people you don’t even know come out and support the cause,” Townsend said, will help. “We just want to help the family heal.”

Mourners pay respects to fallen Marine

By Rachel Stern
The Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal

ITHACA, N.Y. — They dabbed their eyes with tissues, hugged one another and, at certain times of the afternoon, shielded themselves from the elements with umbrellas and hoods.

Mourners started lining up on North Geneva Street at 1 p.m. April 11 to pay their respects to Marine Cpl. Christopher D. Bordoni at Immaculate Conception Church. By the time the doors of the church opened at 2 p.m., the line had grown several people deep and had snaked around the corner.

“We wanted to come and show our support because we all went to high school with Chris,” said Graham Nekut, who graduated from Ithaca High School in 2007 and was at the church with four classmates who played soccer with Cpl. Bordoni since middle school. “He was passionate about playing, but kept it light and lively. He was a hard worker, and his parents were a big part of it all.”

Bordoni, 21, was critically injured in January in Afghanistan and died April 3 at San Antonio Military Medical Center, where he had been receiving treatment.

When the doors opened, several mourners were dabbing their eyes with tissues as they walked up the stairs of the church. Others held hands as they walked into the vestibule of the church. Among the first people to walk in were uniformed members of Bangs Ambulance. By 7 p.m., when calling hours were wrapping up, about 1,000 people had filed past Bordoni’s casket.

Along West Seneca and North Geneva streets, members of the Patriot Guard Riders held American flags.

“We are here at the request of the family,” said Gary Allen, the ride captain. “The purpose is to make sure that the military and the family are honored and
respected. It’s great to see the community come out in large numbers and let the family know that they are not alone in this ordeal.”

There were about 15 Patriot Guard members in Ithaca, and they would remain until calling hours were over, Allen said. One, Paulette Terwilliger of Ithaca, has a daughter in the Army who is headed to Afghanistan in two weeks. Terwilliger stood on the corner of North Geneva and West Seneca streets holding a flag.

About 2:30 p.m., the line reached further down the block, and it took about 50 minutes to get inside the church. In the vestibule there were four bouquets of red, yellow, white and purple flowers. Across one bouquet, in gold writing, were the words “United States Marine Corps.”

Flowers adorned the sanctuary. To the left of the flag-draped casket was a portrait of Bordoni. Behind the casket was a Marine Corps flag and a U.S. flag. A candle was lit behind the casket. Two Marines stood guard on either side of the casket, relieved periodically by other members of the Marine Corps honor guard.

As people walked down the aisle to pay their respects, they signed a guest book and then shook hands and hugged members of the family. Some embraced members of the family and cried together.

Family, fellow warfighters recall fallen Marine

By Rachel Stern
The Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal

ITHACA, N.Y. — One of the best things about Jessica Bordoni’s husband was how well he knew her. Whenever people she didn’t know well would come up and speak to her, she would get little panic attacks. Her heart would start to race, but over the course of time, she said, her husband, Marine Cpl. Chris Bordoni, taught her how to calm down. He would always say, “Chill out, babe, chill out,” she said.

So on April 12, when Jessica walked up to speak at Chris’ funeral, tissues in hand, with her heart racing, she said she was able to do it because he was there with her.

The night before Chris left for his deployment to Afghanistan, he and Jessica were in their room and she told him she didn’t know what she would do if anything ever happened to him. He just looked at her, wrapped his arms around her and said, no matter what happened, everything would be OK.

The last conversation Jessica had with her husband in Afghanistan was two days before he was critically injured there. Chris told her that he couldn’t wait to come
home to her.

“He said I promise I’ll come home, and he did,” she said. “He made it home. And even though he fought so hard and he struggled and he knew that everything that happened, it all lay in his hands and it would be his decision and that’s exactly what it was. And he made it home to be with us. To let us say what we wanted to say to him.”

Immaculate Conception Church was filled to capacity, which is 750 people, with about 30 more standing behind the pews against the wall, for a Mass of The Resurrection for Cpl. Christopher D. Bordoni.

About 60 members of his Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines sat in pews on the left side of the church.

Bordoni, 21, was critically injured in January in Afghanistan and died April 3 at San Antonio Military Medical Center.

The line to get into the service wrapped around the corner when the doors opened at 9:30 a.m. When members of Bordoni’s Bravo Company arrived and filed past the line, those waiting applauded.

One Marine, stationed in Quantico, Va., stood in line on a few hours of sleep after leaving Virginia at 10 p.m. the night before. He marveled at the community outpouring of support for Bordoni. He said this type of support does not take place in all communities.

The Rev. Joseph Marcoux said it was a privilege to speak with members Bordoni’s family a few days ago. The stories that emerged about Bordoni were amazing, he said.

Chris’ father, Tim, told Marcoux a story about when Chris was 5 and asked if his shoe would hit someone if it fell off in heaven.

Chris’ mother, Carol Sprague, told Marcoux a story about a time when Chris’ brother, Casey, was in school one day and some kids were picking on someone. Casey went over to try and help. Chris just happened to be walking by, dropped his backpack, and immediately went over and tried to help Casey defend the kid who was getting picked on.

“So, even when he was young,” Marcoux said, “he was protecting others.”

Lt. Col. George Benson, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, spoke about the dangerous operations Cpl. Bordoni faced when he served in Afghanistan.

“I am here to make sure you all understand that the young man you grew up with, or simply knew as Chris, became one of the Marine Corps’ most talented and courageous leaders,” he said.

Bordoni was part of two of the most significant and dangerous operations the military has committed to in Afghanistan, Benson said. In August 2011, Bordoni’s battalion was ordered to clear the remaining stretches of a valley in Helmand province that held more than 145 Taliban bunkers, Benson said.

It took Bordoni’s company three days to reach their objective and Bordoni was in the middle of it all, Benson said. Bordoni maneuvered his team from position to position and within a week the majority of the Taliban leaders had fled the Kajaki area, Benson said.

“I think Chris lived these past couple of months with a message. He was showing everyone how much he loved us. He wanted his fellow Marines to be proud of him, and we all are,” Benson said. “And he wanted his family to recognize that he was willing to endure extreme hardship in order to see them again. One day I will tell my grandchildren how I am not a hero, but as a younger man I was once blessed to walk among them for a while. Thank you, Chris Bordoni.”

Cpl. Paul Chambers said he carries so much of Bordoni with him. Chambers was Bordoni’s squad leader in Afghanistan. He leaned on Bordoni when it came to tactical decisions. He admired Bordoni’s courage, dedication, heroism and commitment.

On Nov. 5, 2011, the squad’s point man was struck by an improvised explosive device. Bordoni cleared out a landing zone for a helicopter. Those actions saved the right leg and life of the lance corporal, who was at the service on Thursday, Chambers said.

Something that will always stick out to Chambers, though, was the way Bordoni befriended Afghan children. Bordoni would show these children that the men who showed up in their villages every day with large rifles were not there to cause harm, but to help rid their surroundings of bombs.

“I can, without a doubt, affirm that he touched numerous children throughout Afghanistan as I remember their faces and voices chanting his name upon his arrival into their villages, ever so joyous of the security and the hope that he brought with him,” Chambers said.

While sniffles could be heard throughout the morning service, crying was most audible throughout the church as Jessica recalled memories of her life with Chris, from their first home together, from the hospital in San Antonio and just before he deployed.

Two weeks before Bordoni was due to return home, Jessica said, she received the phone call and it was a long four days until she was able to see him in San Antonio, she said. No matter how critical his condition was, she said, everyone was just so happy to see him.

The doctors continued to remind the family how amazing it was and how shocked they were that he had made it that far, she said. As the weeks went by, there were ups and downs, but Jessica said she was at peace and she knew everything would be OK because there was a reason that he was brought home.

While in San Antonio, Jessica said they saw bits and pieces of Chris’ personality. One time his physical trainer came in for cognitive therapy and asked him if he was Chris Bordoni, and he shook his head, no. Then she asked if he was Cpl. Bordoni and he shook his head, yes.

Chris made it to his one-year wedding anniversary with Jessica, March 27, she said. He made it to see his brother, Casey, and sister, Jackie. He made it to see his mother and father, she said.

But when they started to realize that things were getting more difficult for him, the family got together and the Marines came and pinned him with his Purple Heart.

“It wasn’t 10 minutes after they pinned him that his heart beeped for the last time and we knew that was what he was waiting for,” Jessica said, as she fought back tears.

A month before Chris left for deployment, Jessica said, the couple bought their first home together in Jacksonville, N.C. Chris loved that more than anything, she said. He had a huge smile on his face when he came inside after mowing the lawn for the first time. The two held hands as they watched their brand new washer and dryer clean their clothes.

“He had that satisfaction, he had that,” she said. “It was quick and it was short, but he had it. He was at that peak that I knew he always wanted to be at and he said he always wanted to be at. We made it a year and that is OK because it was intense and it was hard and it was fast and it was for a reason and it was for this reason. And like he says, everything’s OK.”

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