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Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas Reilly Jr.

Died December 21, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of London, Ky.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died Dec. 21 in Karmah, Iraq, while supporting combat operations.

Marine from Kentucky killed in combat in Iraq

The Associated Press

LONDON, Ky. — A 19-year-old Marine from Kentucky was killed in a surprise attack in Anbar province, Iraq, his mother said.

Lance Cpl. Thomas “T.J.” Reilly Jr., of London, died Dec. 21 during combat operations, according to the Department of Defense.

His mother, Gina Bray, said her son joined the military after graduating from South Laurel High School last year.

“I didn’t want him to go. He wanted to go. But I didn’t want to crush his dream,” Bray told WKYT-TV in Lexington.

But on Sunday, Bray said Reilly’s unit came under a surprise attack, and he was killed instantly.

“He was on a mission. There was a hostile situation, and they just hurt my baby. And they took him,” Bray said.

Reilly was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Bray said Reilly had a knack for baking in home economics classes and he had wanted to enter culinary school after the military.

“They used to tell him how good he made cakes,” Bray said.

One of Reilly’s former teachers, Mary King, said she kept in contact with him after he was deployed to Iraq over the summer.

“Needless to say, we have been heartbroken,” King told The Times Tribune in Corbin.

King said Bray was given the news of Reilly’s death at a hospital in Harlan, where her daughter Regina had just given birth.

“She’s had ups and downs over the past few days,” King said.

“He was very, very close with her, very tight with his mother, and so she is really struggling.”

King said Reilly was attracted to the opportunities in the military.

“He saw (the Marines) as a place he could excel and be a leader and be someone who could be in charge and move on up in the ranks,” King said.

Funeral services have not yet been scheduled at London Funeral Home.

Family, friends remember Marine killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

LONDON, Ky. — A 19-year-old Marine killed in Iraq was remembered for giving his life “for the country he believed in” when family and friends gathered Monday for his funeral.

Lance Cpl. Thomas “T.J.” Reilly Jr. of London, Ky., was killed Dec. 21 in Anbar province when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle, the military said.

“We stand here today brokenhearted, but proud of what T.J. accomplished in his life,” said the Rev. Joe Mobley, a former Marine who led the service at the London Funeral Home. “He gave his life for the country he believed in.”

Mourners stood when one of Reilly’s high school teachers sang the Marines’ Hymn, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on its Web site.

Reilly, who graduated from South Laurel High School last year, liked sports growing up, including basketball, football and boxing, but he had a flair for cooking and baking. He was interested in a culinary career but joined the Marine Corps to become a leader, friends said.

Among the mourners was Susan Akins of Whitesburg, Tenn., whose son, Lance Cpl. Michael Williams, served with Reilly in Iraq.

She said her son was in the same convoy but in another vehicle when Reilly died. She said Reilly was extremely popular in the unit, and that his fellow Marines were still devastated at his death.

She said five other Marines in the vehicle with Reilly suffered wounds that apparently were not life-threatening.

Reilly was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Survivors include Reilly’s mother, Georgina Bray of London; his grandfather, George Bray of Chicago; a brother, Kenneth Bray of Braidwood, Ill.; and a sister, Regina Reilly of Manchester.

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