It's not a Happy Memorial Day

Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 PA License - AB067198

Before you wish someone a Happy Memorial Day please think! It is not.

Memorial Day is a time to think on and honor those who died serving our country. This hit home for me a few days ago when my son, who served in the U. S Marine Corps in 2nd Recon a special forces unit posted the following on Facebook. It was written in 2006, when his unit was in Iraq and it sums up some of the emotions these young men and their families carry with them every year at this time. He lost 12 friends that tour, a large number for the small unit they were. Many carry survivors' guilt, and many went through things we can never imagine or comprehend. Leaving all politics aside please take time to honor these young men and women who have served and if anything give them a hug and let them know you care for them even if you don't understand the mental or physical scars they carry.

Written in 2006:

To family and friends and all those back home who support the fight for freedom,

I just sealed the envelope on what I hope to be the last condolence letter I ever have to write. As I addressed the envelope to the mother of my most recent fallen Marine, I inscribed “FREE” on the upper right corner - to denote the lack of postage due to its origin being a combat zone. As I wrote that word, I felt the pen - and my heart - become heavy. Four simple letters, written to denote the cost, or lack thereof, of sending a letter to home from combat. Four simple letters that sum up everything written inside of that envelope. The postage is free; liberty is not. All of the Marines who we evacuated after the horrible IED attack on the night of 01 May have fallen, each at his own time. Yesterday was their memorial service - Memorial Day weekend was an appropriate time for such a service. Moving units around at the last minute to get as many Marines back inside the wire just for the few hours they needed to pay their last respects to their fallen brothers is the type of Memorial Day weekend one experiences during war. I have received quite a few emails from family and those friends who I consider family, wishing us the best during this Memorial Day weekend and thanking us for the sacrifices made. Those people who should be thanked are the ones that won’t come home and those families they won’t come home to.

Lance Corporal Robert Moscillo - Combat Engineer, man of God, brother to five and son. Robert was killed on the night of 01 May.

Robert spent many years growing up trying to figure out what his path in life was going to be. When he felt called to religious service, he decided to join the Marine Corps first to serve his country and to earn the money he needed to attend the religious education he sought. He was attached to my platoon for about a month before he died in the IED attack on 01 May. A source of entertainment, motivation, and spiritual outreach among the Marines in the platoon, he will be sorely missed.

Corporal Cory Palmer - Recon Marine, Sniper, Marine Combatant Diver, Son and Brother. Cory Palmer wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He loved surfing and lived for having fun. He was one of the finest Marines I’ve ever served with. He died on 06 May as a result of the burns he sustained on the night of 01 May - four days before his 23rd birthday.

Enthusiasm - “intense feeling for a subject or cause, eagerness, zeal …something inspiring.” Corporal Cory Palmer personified enthusiasm…enthusiasm for the Marine Corps, for having fun, and more importantly, for his family and his brother Marines. Indeed, Cory was “something inspiring.” A specimen of physical greatness and mental ingenuity, he was a natural leader. Though he didn’t hold a leadership billet during most of his time in the platoon, Cory led Marines. Every Marine in the platoon would follow Cory, myself included. He was a man who had the courage to speak his mind, and the courage to take the enemy face on. Paddling against the waves to find the one he wanted was the way that Cory operated in all that he did. Whether surfing, or wading through the tides of war to find the best way to destroy his adversary, Cory always maintained his composure and followed through on every occasion. Cory and his enthusiasm will be missed.

Corporal William “Brad” Fulks - Recon Marine, Golden Glove Boxing State Champion, Son, Brother, and Boyfriend. Brad Fulks was a quiet professional who was deeply respected by every man in the platoon. He died on 18 May 2006, 15 days after his 23rd birthday.

Toughness - “so strong and resilient as to withstand great strain without breaking.” Corporal William Bradley Fulks was tough. A quiet professional, he was humble, yet had every reason not to be. A golden glove boxing state champion, he could put a man on his face in a second, yet never once let that quality show, unless he needed to. It was easy for me to tell that the men in the platoon felt comfortable around Brad whether out in town or outside the wire - they felt protected. I know that if I had to survive a bar fight, or a gun fight, he’d be the one I’d want right by my side and I know that the rest of the platoon feels the exact same way. Brad and his toughness and quiet dependability will be missed.

Sergeant Alessandro Carbonaro - Recon Marine, Recon Team Leader, Husband and only Son. Today is the one-year anniversary of the marriage of Sergeant Alessandro Carbonaro and his wife Gilly. A year ago he was married in Washington D.C. Days ago, he was buried a few miles south, in Arlington Cemetary.

Wisdom — “insightful understanding of what is true, right, or enduring…a native good judgment.” Sergeant Alessandro Carbonaro personified wisdom. Refined in his ability to communicate, Alex quietly commanded the attention of the platoon at times. His words and opinion were valued among every man and his good judgment was often sought from those both above him and below him. Many times, I went to Alex for ideas and advice on how to accomplish a task, never walking away without a better plan than the one I had started with. It was easy to tell from my first days with the platoon that he cared greatly for his Marines and their welfare. After the horrible IED attack, as his fellow Marines treated his wounds, he continued to ask about his team members, ignoring the pain he himself was experiencing. He truly cared for others more than himself - the mark of a great man and a true leader. Alex and his caring nature and wisdom will be missed.

The four great Marines listed above are only those from my platoon. Our battalion has lost two more and there are others who are still in naval medical facilities beginning their healing process. Some have been killed in the enemy’s cowardly but effective IED attacks. Others have died and been wounded in close range firefights with determined and fanatical foreign fighters, members of well known terrorist organizations like the one responsible for September 11th. One of these men is Petty Officer 3rd Class Lee H. Deal, a Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman whose funeral was Friday in Baton Rouge, LA. A former student of West Monroe High School, he was to be married upon his return from this deployment to his wonderful fiancé.

All of these Marines are those who should be remembered this Memorial Day weekend, along with all those who have paid the ultimate price in every war before ours.

I have been fortunate to have such a great family and such great friends to know that everything we do here is supported from those back home. I’ve received numerous care packages - some which have been gestures of extreme generosity (thanks Mr. Art!). I’ve taken these care packages and massed them together, then separated all the things inside to make “sniper resupply packages” to drop off to my recon teams and sniper teams when we replenish them with water and ammunition. The men greatly appreciate your generosity.

Have no doubt that as the American people grow wearier and more impatient during this war, that our resolve grows even stronger. The enemy knows that his greatest friends are those in America who can work to demoralize the country and to break our will to fight. He has learned from history and knows the impact of the media and the influence of famous people who have no idea what freedom means or its real cost. Today’s Jane Fonda’s still exist and all those factors that made it so difficult to achieve a strategic victory in Vietnam are the same factors that exist today. We won the tactical fight every time in Vietnam. We continue to win the tactical fights today. It is at the strategic level that America is so vulnerable because of the influence of the masses - the most often times uneducated masses, those that are swayed easily by the media and by famous people who are out of touch with reality. The evil we face today in this world in fanatical Islamic Fundamentalism is as bad or worse than the evil faced by communism or even nazism during WWII. Many people agree that our participation in WWII is what prevents us from speaking German today. To stand by and idly watch whole portions of the world succumb to the demands of Islamic Fundamentalists is as bad an appeasement as Europe in the late 1930s. The men who fight and kill these evil people every day in this war understand this. I can only hope that those back home, the masses who affect foreign policy decisions, can look at history and come to understand this. The war we are fighting is a just war and a necessary war. During this Memorial Day weekend, let us not forget those who have paid the ultimate price fighting it.

Robert Moscillo, Cory Palmer, Brad Fulks, Alessandro Carbonaro

Strong — “physically powerful, robust, healthy, difficult to break, durable, intense, violent, persuasive, and forceful.” Robert, Cory, Brad, and Alessandro were strong Marines and strong men. All were intense and violent against the enemy. They protected their fellow Marines. In his own way, each was persuasive. Each was robust, healthy, and difficult to break. We must not look at their passing as them having broken, or given in. We must look at it as their passage to a place where their strength, their toughness, wisdom, and enthusiasm will be used for a much greater cause, that of the Lord. They remain among us, watching over the platoon and using their talents to protect us against evil - a much greater foe than anything we’ll face on earth’s battlefields.

Thank you for your constant prayers. Please pray for the souls of these Marines and for their families this Memorial Day Weekend.

Semper Fidelis,

Tommy Waller
1st Lieutenant, USMC
Recon Platoon Commander 
Recon Platoon Commander

 — with Swaleh Bones.



Posted by


Nick Vandekar
Nick is a Tredyffrin Easttown Residential and Commercial REALTOR selling The Main Line, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties.

Giving you the confidence to make
the right decisions.

92 Lancaster Avenue
Devon , PA 19333
Mobile: (610) 203-4543 [call or text me]
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If you are buying or selling on or around
Tredyffrin Easttown or along the Main Line, 
we can help you, contact us.


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Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Dear Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 - My grandfather fought in WW1. From the time I was old enough to understand, I always knew Memorial Day was a somber day and not a happy one. 

The first time I read your post, it was an AR post that was riveting! It went right through me. The second time I read it I thought of you and Trudy and how painful it must have been for both of you to know what your son went through. As parents, there are no words to comfort. His experience was life-changing. The third time I read Tommy Waller, 1st Lieutenant, USMC Recon Platoon Commander's narrative, I read it as if I was a mother of one of the four who his FB page was written for in their memory. 

1st Lieutenant Waller was the vehicle communicating the stories about the divine truth of these beautiful souls that were taken too soon. They paid the ultimate price. The details, the names, the personal stories about each soldier pierced my heart. I felt a parent's loss and it was a loss to the Marines and to our country. Each Corporal had known the truth about what freedom means and had given up all their dreams, whether it was religious calling, surfing, hiking the Appalachian Trails, a Golden Glove Boxer, or an inspiring leader, each one was a blessing and a son of God. 

I will never forget them and it is a blessing to know "they remain among us, watching over the platoons." Yes! I will pray for the souls of these Marines and all their families. 

May 26, 2019 11:40 PM #14
AndreaBFerreira CRS - SRS - CLHMS
Keyes Co. - Davie, FL
Miami Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County in FL

Thank you for sharing, it is an unbelievable pain that never goes away. Last year my friend lost her son , also a Mariner, this message is very important to remind everyone who is who and  really matter for our freedom. Thank you Nick

May 27, 2019 04:28 AM #15
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

All the pleasures of living the American way of life is due to those that made it possible. Next time you go anywhere or do anything pause & consider the price

May 27, 2019 06:26 AM #16
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Oh Nick, now this is what I expect to read on Memorial Day - and then some! Also being from a military family, I learned long ago just how somber this day is - especially for vets and families who have lost comrades and loved ones. I can't imagine losing 12 friends all at once - love his letter, Nick.

May 27, 2019 06:50 AM #17
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 ,

Memorial Day is a somber day full of remembering those who gave the ultimate price for our freedom. This letter is so poignant, thank you for sharing it with us.

May 27, 2019 07:19 AM #18
Marie Story
Coldwell Banker - Pinecrest (Miami) - Pinecrest, FL
Broker Associate, Pinecrest (Miami) Specialist

Nick, I too had a Marine son, my only child, in Iraq during the same period you had yours.  I've always found it uncomfortable to hear "Happy Memorial Day", but yet I have never quite figured out what to say back in return.

It's sad for me to see the Memorial Day sales, parties, BBQ, etc.  I know that every day on Memorial Day I wake up on my knees acknowledging that only through the mercy and grace of GOD I still have my son.


May 27, 2019 08:05 AM #19
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Thank you for sharing this, Nick, and thank your son for his service to our country. I appreciate his memorial to those who died serving our country.

May 27, 2019 11:35 AM #20
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 - Thank you for your heartfelt thought on this special day.  As parents, we see the changes in our children as they come back home. We understand what today means.  

May 27, 2019 02:22 PM #21
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Robert Moscillo, Cory Palmer, Brad Fulks, Alessandro Carbonaro 

May they and they and all the people who gave the Ulitmate Price of their Life so We can Remain Free



May 27, 2019 03:37 PM #22
Jana Holmstrup
Jana Holmstrup - CCO - Kings Mortgage Services, Inc. - Visalia, CA

Thank you for this heartwarming and emotional post. As a Navy wife, I have never liked the ‘Happy’ wish on the day we would be remembering friends and coworkers and their suffering families.
I was glad to see that most FB and IG posts this year instead used ‘Honoring’ or ‘Remembering’, hoping it is a trend as this is not a celebration.

God Bless you and your son and thank you for your sacrifices ♥️

May 27, 2019 06:10 PM #23
John DL Arendsen
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

Words cannot describe my inner most feelings. You are a true AMERICAN!

May 27, 2019 06:12 PM #24
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

What a beautiful tribute to Memorial Day. I try to always say "Honoring the Brave Heroic Men and Women who paid the Ultimate Price so we could have Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"   There is nothing "Merry" or "Happy" about it.  IMHO

May 27, 2019 07:32 PM #25
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

Memorial Day for me growing up was a few traditions, first visiting the cemetery to remember the departed, then the community parade to honor those who gave all for service to our country, and the official start of the summer holidays cookout season.

In my early teens I accidentally made a discovery at a certain cemetery in Joliet, Illinois.

The cemetery was jammed pack with families visiting their departed loved-ones. As I scanned the landscaping, I was hit by a 4-engine reality train. The cemetery is segregated!

I was so shocked I yelled out, “I can’t believe they even segregate in a cemetery of all places.” My Aunt gave me the perfect answer I still chuckle about when I remember the humiliation I felt. She said, “they can’t segregate the soul son!” She repeated!

After that experience, I only visit a cemetery for burials. Too hard for me to honor sacrifices when systems are in place to nullify what they fought for! Indeed, it is a shame before God!

May 27, 2019 08:32 PM #26
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

That.... brings it home. That is what memorial day is for remembering.

May 28, 2019 05:04 AM #27
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

AND he will remember each of these men for the rest of his life Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543 Give him a salute for me, please

May 28, 2019 08:01 AM #28
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

My inbox is inundated with promotions for big sales.Mattress sale! Best prices for car tires! Lamps at Home Depot lowest prices ever! Exclusive Memorial Day Sale!

. . . and on it goes. But I was happy to hear that a neighbor went to Costco yesterday (Memoral Day) and it was closed! At least they get it.

May 28, 2019 09:47 AM #29
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

As the niece of a man who died in 1968 in Vietnam who has his name engraved on a wall in Washington I totally get Memorial Day.  I sometimes tell people to have a safe Memorial day as I know they will be travelling, but as for me and my family it's about Barbeque, vacation or fireworks.  It's a day to honor the fallen. A day close to home.

May 28, 2019 12:44 PM #30
Brian DeYoung
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ithaca, NY
Brian DeYoung

I hate war. I do lots of VA sales. These men are strong but broken. Tough, but damaged.
Their country does not do enough for them.
Thanks for you timely post.

May 28, 2019 05:18 PM #31
RE Virtual Solutions
RE Virtual Solutions - Saint Charles, MO
Virtually helping real estate professionals.

Hi Nick. Thank you for sharing. What  a good reminder for us all.

May 29, 2019 06:49 AM #32
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Nick:

Thank you for sharing this. I somehow missed it over the holiday but glad I saw it. We all can use a reminder about what Memorial Day is really all about.


Jun 02, 2019 10:31 PM #33
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Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line
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