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The Dead Hand Journal

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My old classmate Megan McClung, who died just over a year ago in Iraq, continues to touch and inspire her shipmates. Here's a cool story:

Officials Dedicate Broadcast Studio to Fallen Marine Public Affairs Officer

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Dec. 11, 2007 - A new broadcast studio was dedicated to the memory of Marine Corps Maj. Megan M. McClung during a ceremony at Al Faw Palace here Dec. 7.

On Dec. 6, 2006, McClung, a public affairs officer, was escorting journalists into downtown Ramadi when an improvised explosive device destroyed her vehicle, instantly killing her and two soldiers.

Army Maj. Joseph Edstrom, Multinational Corps Iraq deputy public affairs officer, said he wanted the studio to be dedicated to McClung since its construction began. Edstrom said he knew McClung when she worked with Kellogg, Brown and Root and had spoken to her a day before her death.

"To hear of people across the services honoring her is great and humbling," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., public affairs chief, who served with McClung in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. "It's moving and hard to put in words. I still hear her laugh, and I still see her smile. She was a good person."

Servicemembers who served with or knew McClung traveled to the ceremony along with special guests, including Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, MNCI commander; Marine Maj. Gen. John Paxton, Multinational Force Iraq chief of staff; and Marine Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin, Multinational Force West commander.

Marine Col. Jeff Satterfield, Multinational Force West plans and operations assessment officer, was McClung's commanding officer at Cherry Point, N.C. "Megan was a servant-leader; nothing was ever about her," he said. "I'm sure she would have preferred the studio be named after the two soldiers she died with.

"It didn't matter what uniform you wore, she touched you," Satterfield said before getting choked up. "It's hard to say goodbye to a friend."

McClung was serving with 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as public affairs officer for Anbar province and was the first female Marine officer to die in Iraq. "I wish Megan could see Ramadi and the rest of Al Anbar today," Odierno said after a brief emotional pause.

McClung, a native of Orange County, Calif., attended the U.S. Naval Academy and received her commission in 1995. She was the first female graduate of the Naval Academy to be killed in action since the school's founding.

"I spoke often with Megan in my first Iraq tour while she served in a civilian capacity with Kellogg, Brown and Root," said Army Lt. Col. James Hutton, MNCI public affairs officer. "She always spoke of her love of the Marine Corps and how she hoped to once again serve in uniform. She achieved getting back to active service, and we're all so proud of her dedication."

"It's tough to describe her," Oliva said. "She was a ball of energy, an athlete, a mentor, a friend, a leader and an inspiration. She was undefined. No one said who Megan McClung was. She said who she was. At her memorial service in Fallujah, the entire chapel was filled with people who wanted to say goodbye."

I hope you're getting a kick out of all this, Red.

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