Nicholas Paul Rapavi
Corporal, United States Marine Corps
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 1198-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 27, 2006
Media Contact: (703) 697-5131/697-5132
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Corporal Nicholas P. Rapavi, 22, of Springfield, Virginia, died November 24, 2006, from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Corporal Michael C. Ledsome, 24, of Austin, Texas, died November 25, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Lance Corporal Jeromy D. West, 20, of Aguanga, California, died November 25, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Media with questions about Rapavi and Ledsome can call the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at (910) 451-9033.
Media with questions about West can call
the Hawaii public affairs office at (808) 257-8870.
Marine Corporal Nicholas Rapavi often told his parents that while the mission in Iraq was important, his top concern was bringing the members of his squad home unharmed.
While on patrol Friday, Rapavi kept his squad back while putting himself in harm's way by going first through a gate in a situation he thought looked suspicious. He was shot in the neck, his father, Paul Rapavi, said yesterday.
"He felt like these guys depended on him and it was his responsibility to make sure they were OK," Paul Rapavi said. "He lost one of the members of his squad in September and he was devastated by that because these people were his brothers."
Nicholas Rapavi, 22, of Springfield, became the 101st Virginian to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. According to the Department of Defense, he was fatally injured while conducting combat operations in Iraq's Anbar province.
Paul Rapavi said his son had served in Afghanistan and once before in Iraq. He advanced in the ranks to become a corporal and led a squad of as many as 12 Marines. Nicholas had planned to leave the Marines at the end of his four-year term in May and go to college and possibly re-enlist later, his father said.
Although not from a military family, Nicholas had wanted to be in the Marines since he was in high school.
"Early on, he was an avid baseball player, but when he went to high school, everything was secondary to the Marines," said Paul Rapavi, who is a dentist. He said Nicholas did everything he could to prepare himself -- joined the Army ROTC, lifted weights, did pushups, always strove to improve.
He had two younger brothers -- Jonathan, 20, and Christopher, 18 -- to whom he was very close, his father said.
"It's been especially tough for the 20-year old," Paul Rapavi said. "All his friends think of Nicholas as the true American hero. When he joined, they were saying, 'Osama bin Laden's in trouble now.' Nobody's going to get away from Nick."
Paul Rapavi described his son as outgoing with lots of friends, a natural leader. "He was a tough guy but treated people fairly. You didn't cross his brothers, but as soon as he straightened you out, he could be your friend."
Besides his father and brothers, Nicholas Rapavi is survived by his mother, Cathy Rapavi-Burnley.
Plans for a funeral service are incomplete, but his family hopes he will be able to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his father said.
Nicholas Rapavi was assigned to the 2nd Battalion,
8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force,
based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq and held at the memorial chapel aboard the Quantico Marine Corps base Friday was solemn and sad - and untouched by a religious group protesting outside of the base front gate.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," said the Rev. Thomas Palke, a retired Army chaplain, to the parents of Marine Corporal Nicholas P. Rapavi of Alexandria.
Rapavi was killed November 24, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province of Iraq.
Almost all 500 seats of the chapel were filled with mourners, many of them young adults and likely friends of the 22-year-old Marine.
They stood in silence as the flag-draped coffin of the Marine was escorted into the chapel by Marines in their Dress Blue uniforms. Other Marines in Dress Blues also attended, including a Marine in a wheelchair who was missing most of his legs.
Rapavi's family arrived at the chapel long before the protesters gathered outside the gate. The funeral procession did not get under way until after the protesters had left. Since it went out the back gate of the base, it is likely they never saw the group.
"Those who knew Nick know he is in a better place," Palke said during the funeral. Palke is a friend of the Rapavi family and his son joined the Marine Corps and went to boot camp at Parris Island with Nicholas Rapavi.
"Nick was and will always be a hero in our hearts," Palke said. "He gave his today so we can enjoy our tomorrow. I'm sure when Nick died, a tear rolled down he face of our Savior."
Also during he funeral, the chaplain spoke of Rapavi's devotion to his country and to his fellow Marines.
"He was a friend to his band of brothers. The few - and sadly today - the fewer, the proud and the brave Marines," Rapavi said.
After leaving the Quantico chapel, the procession proceeded to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
RAPAVI, NICHOLAS PAUL
Michael Robert Patterson
Photo Courtesy of Holly, February 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, December 2006