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Posted: 10/23/2004 6:26:31 PM EDT
Pendleton Marine first Ready Reservist to die after Iraq recall


A Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant killed in Iraq on Wednesday was the first Marine casualty from the Individual Ready Reserve ---- the group of about 8,000 former service members who have been recalled from civilian life to serve in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was killed when a homemade bomb exploded near him in Al Anbar province west of Baghdad, according to the military.

Officials confirmed Friday that Bascom, who had already received a Purple Heart for an earlier combat wound, was the first of the recalled Marines to die in Iraq ---- part of the most recent batch of 5,600 service members recalled from civilian life in June for military service that began on Aug. 31.

His mother, Debbie Bascom, said her son was living in Oceanside working for a bank when he was recalled to service about nine or ten months ago.

He volunteered for duty in Iraq, she said.

"He told me, 'Mom, they need me,' " she said in a tearful phone interview from Colorado Springs on Friday. "He had 24 hours to turn it (Iraq) down. But he just said, 'I'm going Mom. ' "

Debbie Bascom said that when four "very well dressed Marines" approached her door Thursday, it was devastating but was not a complete shock.

She said she had feared the moment many times when her husband Larry, a career noncommissioned officer in the Air Force, had been on wartime deployments during Desert Storm in 1991 and in Bosnia in the mid-90s.

"I just said, 'Are you going to tell me something terrible?'" she recalled, stopping to catch herself as she remembered the painful moment.

"They said, 'Yes ma'am. We regret to inform you...'" she murmured, trailing off, unable to say any more.

Not a 'back-door draft'

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Richards said that of the pool of some 111,000 former service members on the rolls of the Individual Ready Reserve, 5,600 service members were called for service in Iraq and Afghanistan in June.

Army spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba said Friday that the summer recall included 4,166 Army soldiers whose tours will last at least through March, 2005.

Marine Corps officials said Friday that they did not have current statistics available, but said some 4,000 Marines had been recalled since 2001. Many have already served and have since have left the military.

Thousands of soldiers have also been prevented from retiring or leaving the Army once they have completed their obligations in the military under the so-called "stop loss" program.

Richards dismissed charges by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that the Bush Administration's reliance on large numbers of reservists and National Guard troops to fight in Iraq amounted to a form of conscription.

"That is absolutely false," Richards said Friday. "Any notion or claim that this is some sort of a 'back-door draft' is not based in fact."

Pentagon officials have said the Individual Ready Reserve is an essential component of the so-called global war on terror and is part of every service member's initial enlistment obligation.

When a soldier or Marine signs up, they enlist for a minimum of eight years, Richards said.

After a four-year tour on active duty, service members can either re-enlist, join the active reserves, in which they continue to train and draw pay, or sign up with the Individual Ready Reserve, under which they return to civilian life but are on call for emergencies, including war.

"They know that at any time they can recalled to active duty," Richards said during a telephone interview Friday. "They are in the reserves, and they know what their commitment is."

A hard worker and a volunteer

Bascom was assigned to Pendleton's 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment, which arrived in the provincial capital of Ramadi about six weeks ago. Fighting there has been brutal, with at least 25 Marines and soldiers killed in the last two months.

Bascom had already received a Purple Heart on Oct. 17 after he was wounded in an earlier firefight about two weeks after he arrived in Iraq, according to his parents.

His family described him as a skilled artist, an enthusiast of snowboarding and other extreme sports, and a young man who loved life in the Marines.

His wife, Jolene Bascom, of Colorado Springs, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Although Bascom was recalled into service, his family said they were sure he wanted to go fight in Iraq.

"He called us on Sunday to tell us he was getting a Purple Heart," said Larry Bascom, speaking by phone Friday about the citation his son received on Oct. 17 for being wounded in the arm during a firefight, after which he returned to duty the next day. "He was so proud of that. So were we.

"He told us he loved us a lot and that he was very grateful that he got to serve," he said.

It was their last conversation before he was killed.

Remembering him as the "hardest worker of anyone I've ever met," Debbie Bascom said she has found some peace knowing her son died doing what he loved to do.

"The Marines was a perfect place for him," she said. "He loved people and he loved doing things for others. He was out there providing everyone else's freedom.

"Everyone has to die," she said. "Of all the ways to go, being a Marine and serving with his buddies would have been they way he wanted to go out."

Link Posted: 10/23/2004 11:58:15 PM EDT
"Everyone has to die," she said. "Of all the ways to go, being a Marine and serving with his buddies would have been they way he wanted to go out."

That says it all.
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 11:59:58 PM EDT
Semper Fidelis.

Rest in Peace Marine.
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 12:00:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/24/2004 12:03:26 AM EDT by CFII]
90% of the IRR/reservist marines that I know have signed up for active duty deployment in the sandbox. All officers with high paying civvy jobs. They have a calling. Semper Fi.
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 12:00:56 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 12:41:59 AM EDT

Semper Fi
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 1:07:17 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 1:16:36 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:
"Everyone has to die," she said. "Of all the ways to go, being a Marine and serving with his buddies would have been they way he wanted to go out."

That says it all.

Yes sir, it sure does!

Semper Fi

Link Posted: 10/24/2004 5:38:46 AM EDT

Rest in Peace, Sergeant Douglas E. Bascom.
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 7:58:07 AM EDT
In memory of Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, I am now playing John William's Hymn to the Fallen, the end theme to the Steven Speilberg's movie Saving Private Ryan.

Freedom does carry a very high price tag.
Link Posted: 10/24/2004 8:13:07 AM EDT
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