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Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone III

Died August 7, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

19, of Christiana, Tenn.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Aug. 7 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius.

Prisoner gained access to Marines’ weapons

Staff and wire reports

Two Marines were killed during an attempted prisoner escape in southern Afghanistan.

NATO officials said that the Marines died while trying to subdue a prisoner Aug. 7 who had escaped from a room where he was observing prayers. The prisoner acquired a rifle, and then shot at Afghan and coalition forces.

The Defense Department announced late Aug. 9 that two North Carolina-based Marines were killed Saturday in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, although Marine officials were unable to confirm they were involved in the attempted escape. They are:

* Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius, 20, of Ashtabula, Ohio.

* Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone III, 19, of Christiana, Tenn.

Both men were assigned to Camp Lejeune’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, according to a DoD news release.

Escaped detainee was under Afghan control

By Dan Lamothe

Staff writer

A detainee who killed two Marines on Aug. 7 escaped from a room at an Afghan-controlled detention center and obtained a rifle before opening fire on Marines and Afghan security forces who gave chase, a Marine spokesman said.

The incident occurred at Forward Operating Base Musa Qala District Center. Marines based there with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., responded to capture the fleeing detainee, said 1st Lt. Joshua Benson, a Marine spokesman in Afghanistan.

The detainee opened fire on U.S. and Afghan forces, killing two Marines and a contractor, and wounding four more Marines and an Afghan National Police officer, Benson said. The detainee was then killed by small-arms fire.

The incident occurred about 6 p.m. in Musa Qala, a district of about 20,000 people in northern Helmand province. The battalion has been there for months, after deploying in March to solidify security in the area, which had been patrolled by British troops in recent years.

The Defense Department announced Aug. 9 that two Marines with 1/2 were killed Aug. 7. They are Lance Cpl. Kevin Cornelius, 20, and Pfc. Vincent Gammone, 19. Cornelius enlisted out of Ashtabula, Ohio, while Gammone joined the Corps out of Christiana, Tenn. The identity of the slain contractor was not disclosed.

The incident remains under investigation by Marine officials with 1st Marine Division (Forward), based at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Benson said. Additional details were not available.

“The Marines are committed to our mission here in Helmand province and continue to work closely with our Afghan partners to provide security and development opportunities for the people of Afghanistan,” Benson said.

Marines have complained for months that a lack of discipline and laziness among Afghan security forces puts their lives in danger.

Family told Gammone killed while helping fellow Marine

By Mark Bell

The (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) Daily News Journal

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Marine Pfc. Vincent E. Gammone III was killed after a prisoner being transported by Marines attempted to escape a convoy, shooting and killing Gammone and at least one other Marine in the process, his family said.

Gammone would have turned 20 on Aug. 10, according to his fiancée, Jessica West. West; Gammone’s mother, Lorraine Gammone; and grandmother, Ellie Gammone were notified of Gammone’s death on Aug. 7, the day it happened.

“We were told that Vincent was one of the first to go to the aid of another Marine who had been wounded by the escaped prisoner, who was able to arm himself during his attempted escape,” West said. “We found out he was shot in the collarbone.”

An official news release says Gammone, of Christiana, and Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius, 20, of Ashtabula, Ohio, died while supporting combat operations in Helmland province, Afghanistan.

“His mom has been in shock,” West said. “She cried a little and is trying to stay strong. Vincent was very special to his mom and his grandmother.”

Gammone’s father, Vincent Gammone II, suffers from multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with one another. West said when the older Gammone learned of his son’s death he “didn’t believe it was his son” at first. “Yesterday it finally hit him.”

Neighbor Margaret Felts said residents were shocked by Gammone’s death.

“You hear about it on the news, but everything is very abstract,” Felts said. “It happened to somebody else and you don’t ever think of it hitting that close to home. It’s been a major shock. He’s only 19 years old and had his whole life in front of him.”

Felts’ daughter, Krista, grew up with Gammone and attended school with him.

“I grew up with him and spent 14 years with him,” she said. “Right now I’m just in shock and disbelief. I remember when we were in school ... if you didn’t have a friend, he was the one that would run up to you and be your friend and talk to you even if everyone else was ignoring you.”

A Facebook fan site dedicated to the memory of Gammone had almost 70 members three days after news of Gammone’s death began to spread.

Eagleville High School, where Gammone graduated in 2008, has flown its flag at half-staff since educators there learned of his death, according to family members. West recalled that one of Gammone’s “big passions” was for band, which he participated in throughout his high school career.

“He was in the band and played trombone,” West said, adding “he and I were also in ROTC together.”

The Eagleville High School band, via band director Kelly Medford, plans to honor Gammone throughout its halftime shows this fall, according to Gammone’s neighbors and family members.

A New Yorker by birth, Gammone moved to Tennessee with his family when he was 2 years old, according to West. When terrorist cells hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, West remembered Gammone became infuriated and his passion to join the military became stronger.

Gammone had aspirations to join the Navy and to become a military officer once his contract with the Marines expired, West said. His ultimate goal, however, was to become a police officer and raise a family with West.

But instead of wedding plans and a future full of unlimited possibilities, West and the Gammone family are now preparing to bury their young Marine.

“I’ll remember his kind heart,” West said. “He was very forgiving and very loving. I’ll remember his love and passion for band and the Marine Corps, and his love for me, his family and everyone he met.”

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