Patrick Marc M. Rapicault
Captain, United States Marine Corps
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
Nov 17, 2004
Media Contact: Marine Corps Public Affairs - (703) 614-4309 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Captain Patrick Marc M. Rapicault, 34, of St.
Both Marines died November 15, 2004, as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Rapicault was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Smith was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
For further information contact the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.
17 November 2004:
Captain Patrick Rapicault led the Whiskey Platoon, Second Batallion in Iraq. Rapicault was killed Monday night in the line of duty.
The 34-year old's family has lived in St. Augustine, Florida, for more than a decade.
Close friends of the family say the family has a strong military background dating back to Napoleon.
Rapicault, born in France, always dreamed of being in the United States military.
During his deployment to Iraq he had been quoted in papers and in magazines across the world.
In Time Magazine on Oct. 25th Rapicault told a reporter, "When we get sent out it's to defend, deter and detect against any kind of terrorist threat."
Rapicault leaves behind a wife in California.
Widow says her Marine husband was 'fearless'
Captain. Patrick Rapicault was born a French citizen. He died an American. The 34-year-old Marine Corps officer, a Carlsbad resident, was among Camp Pendleton-based Marines killed in enemy fighting in Iraq this week. Military officials said Rapicault, the commanding officer of his unit, died Monday in Ramadi, which is in the Al-Anbar province.
On Thursday, Rapicault's widow, Vera Rapicault, tried to remain strong in the face of his death ---- "he's in heaven, telling me to," she said. She said the Marine Corps told her he died in a suicide bombing attack. Two other Marines died with him, she said.
The widow last spoke to her husband when his phone call woke her at 12:04 a.m. on Monday.
"He said, 'I was thinking about you and I love you with all my heart,' " she said.
The Marines, she said, told her that her husband died at about 6:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time ---- just hours after the couple's last conversation.
"He said, 'I would love to come home and see you, but I am satisfied and happy with what I am doing.' I am at peace with that,' " Vera Rapicault said of their last exchange, a hurried phone call.
Patrick Rapicault was born in France, and came as a foreign exchange student to the United States ---- to Mississippi, to be exact, and his use of the colloquialism "y'all" always came with his thick French accent. The young immigrant later attended college there, earning a degree in business.
But his heart was with the military, his wife said, and he joined the Marines. At about 25, Patrick Rapicault became an American citizen, and was thus able to pursue his dream of becoming an officer.
Vera Rapicault, a 1984 Vista High School graduate, met her "gorgeous" husband-to-be at a barbecue six years ago.
After an engagement capped by their wedding at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Oceanside ---- in his dress blues that day, "he was more pretty than me," Vera Rapicault said ---- the couple was sent to the East Coast. They eventually worked their way back to North County and bought a Carlsbad condo earlier this year.
Patrick Rapicault was "gung-ho" about the military, and about his deployment to Iraq, she said.
"He ate, drank and slept the military," she said. "He was the kind of man who wanted to be in the military, the kind of man you would want to be out there (in Iraq)."
She said her husband had been in Iraq once before, and was injured with second degree burns in a bombing.
Vera Rapicault said Thursday that when he died, her husband was the commanding officer of his unit's weapons company in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
In a story written a few weeks ago, a military publication on the Marine Corps Web site referred to Rapicault as the commanding officer of his unit's Weapons Company. However, information provided by Camp Pendleton this week stated that Rapicault was the assistant operations officer. Pendleton officials said it was possible that Rapicault had become the commanding officer.
Vera Rapicault is planning her husband's memorial, which she said she hopes will be next week at the same Oceanside church in which they married. He will be buried on Nov. 30 in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Patrick Rapicault was an honest man, she said, and a tough guy with a big heart, one who saw the Marines he led as "his boys."
"I've never known anyone quite like him," she said, "and I don't think I ever will again. ... I loved knowing he loved me."
The sting of his death is still fresh, but Vera Rapicault holds tight to her knowledge that the man she calls her hero died doing what he believed in.
"Even though I knew he loved me and loved life,
he was willing to put down his life for our country," she said. "It puts
him in a totally different category. ... He was fearless."
Marine's Loyalty To Troops Recalled
The photograph of Captain Patrick Marc M. Rapicault appeared to be looking over the crowd of mourners gathered at the Old Post Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. There he was with his dark hair cropped short, medals glistening against his chest, gaze as solid and determined as ever.
Nearby, his body lay in a flag-draped coffin.
More than 100 family, friends and fellow service members had gathered to mourn the 34-year-old Marine who lost his life in Iraq. Rapicault, of St. Augustine, Fla., was killed November 15, 2004, in Anbar province. He was the 97th service member killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.
Rapicault was assistant operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. He had been quoted in numerous news accounts and stories about the war in Iraq and the troops' experiences.
"You have to get over your feelings and keep on pushing, just for the simple reason that you have another 170 Marines to take care of and make sure they come back," he told Time magazine shortly before his death.
He was interviewed for an October 25, 2004, article on the war that recounted Rapicault's role as commander of Whiskey Platoon, leading his men on a counterinsurgency mission prior to the start of major fighting in Fallujah.
According to the Time article, Rapicault's Humvee was struck by mortar fire and disabled during the patrol. It was the sixth time he had been hit, the article said. None of his men were killed in that attack, but Rapicault was prepared to give his life for his country.
"It is a daily hit and run," Rapicault later told Agence France-Presse.
Yesterday, a letter from a CBS correspondent who had covered him was read aloud to the mourners. A friend and fellow serviceman recalled his "bone-crushing handshake" and his loyalty to those he loved.
Rapicault had been awarded the Purple Heart, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal.
He was born on the island of Martinique and moved to the French Riviera at age 5. He immigrated to the United States as a teenager. It was during his high school years in Mississippi that he developed his distinctive accent -- part French and part southern, according to one of the speakers at the service. But "Frenchy," as he was known to many, was proud of his mastery of English as a second language, and especially of a writing award he won.
Rapicault attended Delta State University in Mississippi and joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Upon graduating with a bachelor of science degree in business management, he converted to active duty. In 1997, he completed Officer Candidate School and reported to Camp Pendleton in California. The following year, he graduated first in his class from Army Ranger School.
At his grave yesterday, a Marine band played the hymn "Eternal Father Strong to Save." Captain Daniel Hench presented a U.S. flag to Rapicault's wife, Vera, and Staff Sergeant Charles Dorsey presented another to his mother, Nicole Rapicault.
In addition to his wife and mother, Rapicault
is survived by his father, Gabriel Rapicault, and a sister, Christine Cappillino.
Posted: 18 November 2004 Updated: 1 December 2004 Updated: 4 December 2004 Updated: 10 December 2004 Updated: 21 August 2005 Updated: 14 May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 2 December 2004