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Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph T. Welke

Died November 20, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Rapid City, S.D.; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Nov. 20 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds sustained Nov. 19 in enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq.

Rapid City native killed in Iraq

Associated Press

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Marine from Rapid City has died of injuries suffered while fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.

Lance Cpl. Joseph Welke, 20, of Rapid City, died Saturday at the Ramstein Air Force Base hospital in Germany.

Family members contacted Monday said they did not want to comment.

Welke graduated from Rapid City Stevens High School in 2003 and was a Greater Dakota All-Conference football player that year.

Joel Hybertson, head football coach for the Raiders, told the Rapid City Journal that Welke had always talked about becoming part of the military and joined the Marine Corps right after graduation.

“He was a hardworking kid and a very intense competitor. He wanted to be good, and he worked at being good,” Hybertson said.

“If we need somebody for our country, I want somebody like Joe Welke,” he said.

With Welke’s death, nine South Dakotans and a Nebraska man assigned to a South Dakota unit have been killed during military action in Iraq.

Funeral for Marine killed in Iraq to be held Saturday

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday in Rapid City for Lance Cpl. Joseph Welke, the latest South Dakotan to die in Iraq.

The 20-year-old Marine died Nov. 20 after being hurt while fighting in Anbar province, which includes the city of Fallujah. He was a member of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Welke’s body arrived about 6 p.m. Thursday on a commercial flight from Minneapolis. The flight was met at the Rapid City airport by a Marine honor guard, which moved the flag-draped casket to a waiting hearse. The Marines saluted their fallen colleague as the casket was moved.

A close friend from Welke’s unit accompanied his body all the way from Iraq.

Welke, an all-conference football player, graduated from Rapid City Stevens High School in 2003. The funeral will be held in the Stevens gym.

A Marine Corps honor guard will provide military honors during burial at Mountain View Cemetery.

Passengers on the Thursday flight had not been told Welke’s remains were on board until mid-flight. The passengers remained in their seats in silence until the honor guard completed its duty.

One passenger wept openly and was still crying several minutes later in the terminal.

Gov. Mike Rounds has asked that flags be flown at half-staff on Monday to honor Welke.

Nine South Dakotans and a Nebraska man assigned to a South Dakota unit have been killed during military action in Iraq.

— Associated Press

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