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High school senior honors 25 fallen US Marines on homemade prom dress

Fallen Marines (U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
April 30, 2019

An Illinois high school student spent two years making her prom dress which is designed to honor 25 Marines who lost their lives serving in Afghanistan.

Aubrey Headon, a senior at Rochelle Township High School in Rochelle, Ill., crafted the special dress with a star design bodice and 25 red and white ribbons hanging over the skirt, each bearing the names of 25 fallen Marines,  Fox News reported.

The fallen Marines were part of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, also known as 3/5 or Darkhorse, all of whom lost their lives in combat operations in the Sangin District of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province during Sept. 2010-April 2011.

Headon said, “I wanted to wear this tribute dress [to] my senior prom so the memories of the guys who fell in Afghanistan for our right to live how we do and do what we do every day is carried on. I don’t want them to fade into nothing.”

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She decided the theme of her prom dress after meeting Gretchen Catherwood, mother of one of the fallen soldiers.

“She started the Darkhorse Lodge to help combat veterans. I do a fundraiser every year to donate to the lodge,” Headon said about Catherwood.

The “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment suffered more casualties during the war in Afghanistan than any other Marine Corps unit, and 184 members were injured and 34 lost limbs from IEDs, according to KPBS News.

Lt. Col. Jason Morris said soldiers described the Sangin District of Helmand Province as “the most dangerous place in Afghanistan,” NPR reported.

He added that his orders were clear, “Eliminate the Taliban.”

Morris recollects, “The fight initially was to be able to maneuver outside the patrol base without getting shot or stepping on [an improvised explosive device, or IED] that had been planted 50 yards or 100 yards outside of the patrol base. You could not move outside of the district center without getting shot.”

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Morris added, “We had over a hundred firefights in the first three weeks. This is what we had trained for. The only thing that was different from what we had trained all our lives for as Marines was the IED threat.”

Capt. Chris Esrey recalls, “Every day someone was dying, or every day someone was losing a limb. So, we were just like, when are they going to stop?”

The fallen from “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regimen includes:

  • Oct. 8, 2010: Lance Cpl. John Sparks
  • Oct. 13, 2010: Lance Cpl. Joseph Rodewald, Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge, Cpl. Justin Cain and Pfc. Victor Dew
  • Oct. 14, 2010: Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, Lance Cpl. Irvin Ceniceros and Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez
  • Oct. 15, 2010: Lance Cpl. James Boelk
  • Oct. 16, 2010: Sgt. Ian Tawney
  • Nov. 4, 2010: Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm and Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson
  • Nov. 6, 2010: Lance Cpl. Randy Braggs
  • Nov. 9, 2010: 1st Lt. Robert Kelly
  • Nov. 10, 2010: Lance Cpl. James Stack
  • Nov. 24, 2010: Lance Cpl. Arden Buenagua
  • Nov. 25, 2010: 1st Lt. William Donnelly
  • Dec. 2, 2010: Sgt. Matthew Abbate
  • Dec. 6, 2010: Cpl. Derek Wyatt and Pfc. Colton Rusk
  • Dec. 7, 2010: Sgt. Jason Peto
  • Dec. 17, 2010: Lance Cpl. Jose Maldonado
  • Dec. 24, 2010: Lance Cpl. Kenneth Corzine
  • Dec. 28, 2010: Cpl. Tevan Nguyen
  • Jan. 20, 2011: Sgt. Jason Amores