- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Marine Cpl. Ronald R. Payne Jr.
Died May 7, 2004 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
23, of Lakeland, Fla.; assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed May 7, 2004, by hostile action in the vicinity of Tawara, Afghanistan.
Marine from Lakeland killed in Afghanistan
LAKELAND, Fla. — A 23-year-old Marine from central Florida who volunteered to return to combat was killed in Afghanistan during his second tour of duty in two years.
Cpl. Ronald R. Payne Jr., of Lakeland, died May 7 in hostile action near Tawara, according to the Department of Defense.
“If I know Ron, he gave the last full measure,” said his father, Ronnie Payne. “And I am proud of that boy beyond words.”
Payne had been part of the initial force that invaded Iraq and went to Baghdad, said Ed Buford, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Lakeland.
After the first tour ended, Payne volunteered to return to combat and was humble about his service, said his stepmother, Aileen Payne.
“He was where he wanted to be,” she said.
The reconnaissance scout and infantryman initially was sent to Afghanistan to help with the country’s elections, but the mission changed when elections were postponed.
Payne and his best friend came under fire from militants, Buford said.
Family and friends said the 6 foot tall Marine was a big man with a big heart, who would show off his slam-dunking talents and then let the shorter guys in his church’s youth group climb on his back to slam dunk, too.
Payne is also survived by his mother, Kathy Seymour, of Lakeland, her husband and several step siblings.
Payne was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp LeJeune, N.C.
Marine killed in Afghanistan laid to rest
LAKELAND, Fla. — During a Memorial Day celebration last year, Marine Cpl. Ronald R. Payne Jr. told residents of his hometown that freedom is “paid for with blood.”
The video of that speech was played Saturday at his funeral.
Payne was killed May 7 in hostile action near Tawara, Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense. It was his second tour in two years; the 23-year-old was part of the initial force that invaded Iraq and went to Baghdad. When that tour ended, Payne volunteered to return to combat.
“He had to be a Marine,” recalled Guy Howard, Payne’s former Sunday school teacher and a former Marine — just like Payne’s father, grandfather and three uncles all were. “He wanted to serve and do what he could do.”
First Lt. William Schorr, who had served with Payne, read a letter to Payne’s family from commanding officer Lt. Col. Asad Khan during the service. In the letter, Khan said Marines went to the area where Payne died to seek out his killers; four suspects were then slain, including “a prominent Taliban leader,” Khan said.
The 6-foot-7 Payne was a “hero” and a “giant among Marines,” Khan said.
Marines at Saturday’s service carried Payne’s coffin, fired a 21-gun salute and presented his family with his Purple Heart and the American flag that draped his silver casket.
“He was a loving child. There was never a time I wasn’t proud of him,” said Kathy Seymour, his mother. “He was the joy of my life and I can’t believe I will never hear his voice again or his laugh again.”
— Associated Press