Reporter: Ellie Mahan
May 24, 2023
As part of an annual reunion, a group of combat veterans of the Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, will spend time at Parson’s Marina on Lake Whitney for Memorial Day weekend.
Each year, Marine veterans from the 2-4 Marine battalion travel from across the country to meet at a different gravesite, to honor one of the lives lost in the Ramadi Iraq Battles of 2004.
This year, the graveside memorial service will honor Marine Lance Corporal Nickalous Aldrich, who is buried in Pflugerville. The service will also honor the gold star family of Marine Lance Cpl. Nickalous N. Aldrich, who died August 27, 2004, serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Ramadi, Iraq.
The event will provide a place for camaraderie, comfort and healing for the veterans as well as their family or friends. Approximately 50 veterans, their families, and more than five gold star families who have lost a loved one in combat will participate in the event.
The veterans in attendance will be primarily but not limited to the 2-4 Marine battalion of combat wounded from Ramadi engagements in Iraq in 2004.
The event will kickoff Thursday, May 25 with opening ceremonies, a safety briefing from Bosque County Sheriff Trace Hendricks and a dinner. Friday, May 26, the group will be escorted in a shopping tour of Bosque County, with stops at antique stores and craft shops. Game Warden Dayton Issacs will give a Lake Whitney safety briefing and will check fishing licenses.
Saturday, May 27 will be a day and evening of fishing, boating, swimming and family fun on Lake Whitney for the veterans and their families. Seven bass fishing boats have been donated for a day of fishing for up to 35 anglers. An air conditioned cruise yacht has been donated to provide morning and afternoon cruises.
The Memorial Day Reunion Weekend will be a private event, with the exception of the time that the Marine veterans will spend at Parson’s Marina in Whitney after returning from the fishing tournament.
Mark Brown volunteers for various military nonprofit organizations that donated to the event, including Semper Fi and America’s Fund. Brown said that the group will be at Parson’s Marina for about an hour, from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 27. Brown said, “The public is welcome to come to the end of the fishing rodeo, meet the Marines and thank them for their service.”
Games, lake swimming, food and drinks will be available at Parson’s Restaurant & Bar. The fishing rodeo results will be announced Saturday evening, followed by a fresh fish and restaurant menu dinner. Various state and military VIPs have been invited and will be asked to give the invocation.
Sunday, May 28, a charter bus will take the group to the gravesite of Lance Corporal Aldrich in Pflugerville. The service will honor Aldrich, who lost his life at the age of 21 while serving his country in Iraq, on August 27, 2004. Aldrich was struck by a Marine Corps vehicle during a lights-out night patrol in Ramadi.
Aldrich, who graduated from Lanier High School in Austin, joined the United States Marine Corps on June 4, 2001.
He was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. A burial with military honors was held at Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Cemetery in Pflugerville.
Sunday evening, there will be a presentation from guest speaker Bobby McCreight, who was instrumental in developing the optics used by American Navy Seals. McCreight will discuss the ways that military optics have evolved since 2004.
Sergeant Major James Booker, an organizer of this weekend’s activities and a Clifton resident, was awarded the Silver Star by the president of the United States of America. According to the silver star citation, “Sergeant Major Booker courageously exposed himself to enemy fire while leading Marines and eliminating enemy forces in several battalion engagements… By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and loyal dedication to duty, Sergeant Major Booker reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
Brown said that The Golf 2/4 Memorial Day Foundation organization was created with a mission of providing the Marines of Golf Company 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, who served together in combat from 2004-2007, the opportunity to reunite every year in honor and remembrance of their fallen comrades.
According to a New York Times article published in 2012, the Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment is thought to have taken more casualties than any other American unit during a six-month tour of Iraq or Afghanistan, with a total of 34 dead and over 255 wounded.
The group that meets from 2-4 Regiment has lost members since its first gathering on Memorial Day 15 years ago. Lives were lost from the 2-4 regiment long after leaving the battleground, and some of them were due to suicide.
The group’s yearly meetings encourage the veterans to rekindle peer connections and the support from the group. The gatherings also give gold star families the opportunity to embrace fellowship with the brothers of their fallen loved one and to celebrate the lives of the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Brown said, “You weren’t there. You didn’t see the gruesome things that they saw. They can’t talk with you about it because there is no frame of reference. They’ve got each other, but they can’t afford to get together once a week, so this annual event is healing for them.”
For more information about the Golf 2/4 Memorial Day Foundation, visit https://www.golf24memorialdayfoundation.com.