In the midst of the media and anti-war celebration of the 2,000th dead American soldier in Iraq, the milblogger Greyhawk pauses to remember one who fell when the number was still in single digits, a casualty of the war’s first days, Marine Capt. Ryan A. Beaupre, of St. Anne, Illinois:

In his tiny hometown of St. Anne, Ill., Marine Capt. Ryan Beaupre was known for his unruly red hair and easy smile. He was the type to surrender his turn on the phone to other Marines with wives and children back home, family and friends said.

Beaupre, a graduate of Bishop McNamara High School and Illinois Wesleyan University, died March 21 in a helicopter crash near the Iraq border. He had joined the Marine Corps in 1995. The family has two other children, Kari Leisure, 28, and Christopher, 22.

And to them he left one last letter home:

Mom & Dad,

Well if you are reading this, then things didn’t go well for me over in Iraq. I’m sorry for the pain that I have caused you because of this. Please do not be upset with the Marine Corps, the military, the government, or the President. It was my choice to go into the military. The President and my higher commanders were just doing what they thought was best. Realize that I died doing something that I truly love, and for a purpose greater than myself. There is a paragraph that I read from time to time when I lose focus. “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” John Stewart Mill Now there is a little Marine Corps bravado in there, but I do believe in the basic premise. I want you to know that I could not have asked for better parents, or a better family. ….. I’ll never forget that one of my friends in elementary school said that if he could trade places with one person, he’d trade places with me because of my parents and home life. I truly feel that I’ve had a blessed life thanks to you two. Please give my love to Alyse & Ryan, Kari & Matt & the girls, Chris & Brandy, and everyone else in the family.

All my love,

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