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Marine Sgt. Kelley L. Courtney

Died October 30, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

28, of Macon, Ga.; assigned to 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan; killed Oct 30 by enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq.

Georgia Marine warned of ‘hornets nest’ before death

Associated Press

MACON, Ga. — A Marine from Georgia who was among eight Marines killed in Iraq outside the city of Fallujah had confided to his brother that he was entering “a hornets nest,” The Macon Telegraph reported.

Sgt. Kelley Courtney, a counterintelligence officer, had been in Iraq about six weeks when a car bomb exploded next to his truck on Saturday.

Lance Cpl. Michael P. Scarborough, 28, of Washington, Ga., also was among the Marines killed Saturday.

“Don’t tell Mom, but I’m scared,” Courtney said in his last e-mail to his older brother, Joey Fernandez, in Macon. “We are about to stir up a hornets nest here shortly and I’m going to be right in the middle of it.”

Courtney apologized for any past disagreements with his brother, the newspaper reported in its Tuesday editions.

“I thought he was homesick,” Fernandez told The Telegraph. “But he knew that he was going to die.”

Courtney, 28, and his wife, Cindy, had been sweethearts since fourth grade. They were married in 1999 and had two children, Kellie Marie, 4, and Logan, 1. They all joined him in March when he was stationed in Japan. She will return to Macon this week after a memorial service in Okinawa.

Courtney dropped out of high school and completed his GED. He worked as a tire retreader and attended Central Georgia Technical College before enlisting in 1998.

Brother Donny Courtney, 26, joined the Marines days later, their mother, Gena Courtney, said. Donny is stationed in Maryland and does not expect to serve abroad, said his father, Bob Courtney.

Courtney wrote e-mails home as he traveled to Iraq from Okinawa. He read newspapers and Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy books, concluding that major religions shared basic truths twisted by extremists.

“So are we at war with an enemy? No,” he wrote. “We are at war with false prophets and... humans spreading death and lies throughout the earth.”

Courtney was sent to Fallujah for an alliance offensive against the Iraqi insurgents. A member of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force, he carried only a handgun as he followed a combat company from Hawaii. He was to gather information and interrogate prisoners.

Gena and Cindy Courtney e-mailed each other Saturday night after learning that Marines had been killed in Iraq.

“I said, ‘We just have to pray,’ but I started crying and I could not stop,” Gena Courtney said.

Fernandez said he never believed his brother would be among those killed.

“We think: This is our turf. That is theirs. Like it’s so different,” he said. “But it’s really just a walk across the railroad tracks.”

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