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Marine 1st Lt. Travis J. Fuller

Died January 26, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

26, of Granville, Mass.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Hawaii; killed Jan. 26 when the CH-53E helicopter in which he was riding crashed near Rutbah, Iraq. Twenty-nine Marines and one sailor also were killed.

Massachusetts Marine killed in Iraq CH-53 crash

Associated Press

GRANVILLE, Mass. — Marine 1st Lt. Travis J. Fuller was remembered on Friday as a standout student and athlete who put as much effort and dedication into his physical training as he did in the classroom.

Fuller, 26, was among the 31 people killed in a helicopter crash in the Iraqi desert on Wednesday, according to the Pentagon. It was the U.S. military’s deadliest crash of the Iraq war.

“I can’t think of words to say,” Jean E. Ayotte, Fuller’s grandmother, told The Republican of Springfield. “It’s pretty hard to take, that’s for sure.”

Fuller, a Granville native, was a 1997 graduate of Southwick-Tolland Regional High School, who went on to attend Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in marine transportation.

Fuller’s parents, David and Joanne Fuller, are staying with relatives outside the area and could not be reached for comment, Ayotte said.

“They are destroyed,” she said.

Fuller also has two sisters, said Ayotte, who lives in Agawam.

Fuller was a leader, said Eduardo Martinez, his high school wrestling coach. He was respected by his teammates and was captain of the team his senior year.

“Travis was very good and everyone enjoyed being around him,” Martinez said.

Fuller was on the 19-member New England All-Star team in 1996 that participated in an international wrestling competition in Puerto Rico, where he won the 132-pound class in his age division.

“He was a good student with outstanding work habits, again, both in the classroom and the wrestling mat,” said James E. Vincent, the assistant principal when Fuller attended high school.

Fuller and the others died when their CH-53E Super Stallion went down in western Iraq while transporting troops for security operations in preparation for Sunday’s elections.

Fuller, 3rd Platoon commander for Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Hawaii, saw action in Fallujah in November when his unit fought insurgents.

More than 1,400 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 25 were from Massachusetts, according to the Pentagon.

Family keeps promise made to slain Marine

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The parents of Marine 1st Lt. Travis J. Fuller promised their son that when he returned from his tour of duty in Iraq they would meet him in Hawaii.

Fuller died in a helicopter crash in Iraq on Jan. 26. He was 26.

Earlier this week, Joanne and David Fuller of Granville kept that promise to their son when they attended a ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, about 12 miles northeast of Honolulu, where Travis Fuller was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star with a V for valor, for his bravery while fighting insurgents in Fallujah.

“We had told Travis that when he returned from Iraq … we would be here in Hawaii to meet the plane, and we didn’t want to do any less,” Joanne Fuller told The Republican of Springfield from Hawaii, where she was joined by her three daughters and other family members. “We were quite honored that the entire battalion was here.”

The formality of the Marines during the 90-minute ceremony melted away at the end when many of the men Travis Fuller commanded hugged his family.

“They all reminded us what a great guy he was. He was very confident, didn’t consider his own safety,” she said.

The Marines told the Fullers that their son used his sense of humor to keep them loose.

Fuller’s citation notes enemy fire had pinned down the Marines as they advanced on a mosque while fighting in Fallujah, but Fuller traversed the battlefield to check on his men.

“His exceptional display of valor resulted in the destruction of four insurgents and enabled the unit to continue with its mission,” the Marines said.

— Associated Press

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