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  Home > Communities > Hanover

10/4/06 - Posted from the Daily Record newsroom
This photograph shows Chris Cosgrove in his Marine uniform.

This 2000 photograph provided by Whippany Park High School shows Chris Cosgrove in his school football uniform.

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Suicide bombing killed Marine

Hanover man volunteered for Fallujah assignment

1 Comment
HANOVER -- Chris Cosgrove, the 23-year-old Cedar Knolls Marine killed in action in Iraq on Sunday, had volunteered to man the east Fallujah roadway checkpoint where a suicide car bomb was detonated.

The car drove up to the checkpoint with two suicide bombers inside, according to published reports. The car exploded as it was pulling up to an area where it was to be searched.

Cosgrove was killed. Two Iraqi Army soldiers also were killed in the explosion, which injured Lance Cpl. Jason E. Mikolajcik of Burlington, Conn.

According to Marines interviewed by the Hartford Courant, Cosgrove made friends with local "regulars" who passed through the checkpoint.

"He would look for other things to do even after successfully completing his normal assignments," said Gunnery Sgt. Courtney Johnson of G Company of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines at Picatinny Arsenal in Rockaway Township after communicating with Marines who were with Cosgrove overseas.

"Iraqis wanted him to be a liaison of sorts for them in the city."

Cosgrove left behind many close friends, relatives and a fiancée, Jessica Gurdemir of Staten Island. They were to be married in August, relatives said.

Path to the Corps

Cosgrove enlisted in the Marines a year before he graduated from Monmouth University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in history and an archeology minor. He knew exactly what he was doing.

"If he waited a year, he could have been put in the (Marines) officer program," said Petra Ludwig, director of public affairs for the university.

"It shows his personality."

He received word that he was being shipped to Iraq during the spring of his graduation. He was a reservist with G Company of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines at Picatinny Arsenal. That unit had participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and was not scheduled to return, Johnson said.

But Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division from Plainville, Conn., which was being deployed to Iraq, needed more Marines.

"Their numbers were short,"said Johnson, who knew Cosgrove for only a short time when they were in the same battalion.

"He graciously accepted his assignment without any complaint because that's just the kind of guy he was."

In Iraq, Cosgrove developed a rapport with Iraqis. He would get to know their customs, their language.

That was behavior expected from a history and anthropology student, said Kathy Smith-Wenning, specialist professor of anthropology at Monmouth University.

"That's the anthropology and history side. That's his love of learning about other people and understanding of culture.,"Smith-Wenning said.

"And the only way you can get along with other people is by understanding them."

The kind things people were saying about Cosgrove in Iraq were echoed in Cedar Knolls.

"People always say nice things about people when they pass away, but in Cosgrove's case everything is true," Johnson said.

Campus memories

"He had talked about becoming a police officer," said Richard Veit, one of Cosgrove's professors at Monmouth University.

"But he was very patriotic. He was very proud to be serving. I think there was a practical side, but I think there was a deeper patriotic side. It's just sad that it came to this."

It's not ironic that suicide bombers from that culture killed Cosgrove. It's just sad, said Veit, also an anthropology professor.

"It's unbelievable to hear he lost his life in Iraq," Veit said.

"He was a good student. Funny in a positive sense. We're all pretty appalled to hear that he died this way."

Out of more than 6,000 students at Monmouth University, Cosgrove stood out to President Paul G. Gaffney II, a retired Navy vice admiral.

"I knew Chris from my first days at Monmouth," Gaffney told students and staff members on Tuesday.

"He was always eager to talk about service to his country; service as a Marine. There is a term for his enthusiasm to serve as a Marine: Gung Ho. He knew the Marines were an elite fighting force, and he was vitally interested in lifelong bonding that comes from being a Marine.

"That has ended now. Chris is gone. His family will struggle with his loss, and so will we. His family will need our support and thoughts, even our prayers."

The university will fly a flag at half staff in honor of Cosgrove for the rest of this week, Ludwig said.

Cosgrove was deeply committed to the military. He also had a deep affinity for knowledge, his former educators said.

Before going to Iraq, he was stationed in Kuwait. After training there for three months and days before he was to be shipped to Iraq, Cosgrove sent an e-mail to his history, archeology and political science professors.

The e-mail sent in March had a friendly tone, was very matter-of-fact, and had no indication of trepidation at what might lie ahead. He tells professors how to get in touch with him and asks them to give him their addresses so he can write letters. He even offers to speak at the professors' classes when he returns.

"It may be of some interest to get my point of view for the poli sci classes and even for the history classes of what is going on," Cosgrove wrote in his e-mail to professors.

"As of ! right now a lot is changing and we cannot go into the city as they did a few years ago and shoot anything that moves."

Marine's plans

The Marines were the best preparation for a law enforcement career, Cosgrove had reasoned. But his decision to enlist came from something much deeper, those who knew him said.

It may have been a family legacy in the armed services. It may have been a deep-rooted sense of patriotism. It may have been the Marine's character, which Cosgrove's stepfather called "the best."

The draw to the Marines started in high school, his stepfather, Art Bowie of Cedar Knolls, said on Tuesday.

"He was looking to find a position in life," Bowie said. "We had to talk him out of enlisting straight out of high school. We convinced him to go to college first."

Cosgrove would have been the kind of police officer or firefighter -- another career he considered -- that everyone in a community would know, his friends and relatives said.

"Chris -- he just, just liked people," Art Bowie said. "He hit it off well with people all the time. It was just the way he was."

Tradition of service

Many of his relatives have ties to public service. His stepfather was in the Air Force. His father, Chris Cosgrove Jr. of New Providence, retired as an officer in the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

His paternal grandfather was a police officer. An uncle, Thomas Turrisi, is a police officer in Boonton. His maternal grandfather, Charles A. Turrisi Sr., was a World War II pilot who was shot down and held prisoner until the end of the war.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized. Cosgrove's survivors include his maternal grandmother, Dorothy Turisi; his paternal grandmother, Margery Cosgrove; two brothers, Kevin and Brian of New Providence, and several uncles, aunts and cousins.


Navid Iqbal can be reached at (973) 428-6627 or niqbal@gannett.com.


Friends & Family Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:17 am
In Honor of Christopher Cosgrove
http://www.christophercosgrove.org


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