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A Tribute to Lt Mark Daily

Last week I wrote about the death of one of my Soldiers, Sergeant Lucas T. Beachnaw. Writing about his passing brought to the surface feelings about another friend I've lost, who I haven't written about.

Three years years ago on Jan. 15--the same day I heard about Beachnaw--I received the sad news that one of my good friends from UCLA ROTC, 2nd Lieutenant Mark Daily, had been killed in Iraq by an IED.

I had just started Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (IBOLC). I was living in a house of four UCLA ROTC graduates all attending the same course. We all knew Mark, but I knew him the best. After a long day in class, my phone rang and I learned about our ROTC program's first casualty in the War on Terror.

I suppose I need to back up. Mark and I clicked as soon as we met in ROTC. He joined the program his junior year as a transfer, I joined the same year as a sophomore. The first of many long conversations occurred on the way to a TV show taping in Hollywood. In the back of the ROTC van we discussed the most dangerous threats facing America. We settled on aliens, followed by ants, and then robots. It wasn’t a serious conversation. Later that spring we were on the same squad for the fall FTX. We both shared a passion for history and politics--discussed frequently over coffee at Kerkhoff hall at UCLA.

Mark's thirst for knowledge was his most defining characteristic. Since we shared an interest in current politics--and the wars--we had a lot to discuss. We also vented about the Army and ROTC in our long conversations. After his thirst for knowledge, his loyalty to to his friends, and devotion to his wife, still stick in my mind when thinking about Mark.

Mark graduated the year before I did. We hadn't kept in great contact but a few weeks before I was to leave to go to Fort Benning he stopped by the ROTC program. I decided to see him on my way out to Fort Benning, only a few weeks before he deployed to Iraq. When Eric C and I finally arrived, we drank margaritas, ate tacos, and talked late into the night. He told me about leading Soldiers, and the differences between ROTC and the real Army.

On 15 January 2007, after a long day of IBOLC training above, Mark's wife called to say that he had been killed in an IED blast. Like last week, I put my training on hold to attend the funeral that weekend.

After he passed, Mark gained minor internet fame. On his Myspace page he explained his decision to join the Army, and his powerful words inspired congress people and civilians all around. It was a strong message from an intelligent Soldier.

So after a tribute to a fallen Soldier last week, why another tribute so soon? We needed to do a post on Mark Daily, and Sergeant Beachnaw's passing reminded me that I had not given Mark the respect he deserves. In the current conflict, I have lost two people who were close to me; it doesn't get any easier.

five comments

Yeah, I wanted to add two things. One is that we probably should have written about Mark before, but I don’t thik we felt free enough early on.

The second is that I’ve met a lot of Michael C’s fellow soldiers, but it feels like the ones I know best are the ones that pass away. It is really sad.

What can I say?
I’m really sorry for your losses and especially getting killed in an IED blast…! – Absolutely not the most wonderful way to go! I just hope it was instant, so he didn’t have to suffer much!

Here’s a link you might be interested in, but who knows, perhaps you also think it’s a little too rough, but once you’ve read it, you might be happy that it didn’t end like this…

There are just too many soldiers lost to mention them all…

There isn´t much you can do except help the ones that made it back and remember the ones who aren´t here anymore. I´m glad to hear you were able to make it to your friends funeral. I´ve just started volunteering in Landstuhl after I learned I could, and I hope I can atleast help some people a little, even if it is something as trivial as distributing a backpack and a couple of care packages to them. I rather wish people wouldn´t have to go through this, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that this is happening to people as it is a natural byproduct of conflict. Like I said I hope the best for the guys who were under you who are in Afghanistan right now, and hope you don´t have to experience this again during their deployment.

“LT Mark Daily, Mission Complete.”