Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Benjamin D Desilets

Elmwood, Illinois

May 22, 2007

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
21 Marine L/Cpl

3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

 Killed while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

From Central Illinois Proud centralillinoisproud.com 05/30/07:

A Heroís Welcome
Reported by: Bret Lemoine - WMBD/WYZZ TV
Wednesday, May 30, 2007 @10:19pm

WMBD/WYZZ TV Ė ELMWOOD A fallen hero is now home. The body of Marine Corporal Ben Desilets returned to his hometown of Elmwood this evening. Hundreds came out to pay their respects, and remember the life of their friend Ben. We spoke with several of Benís former high school classmates. Theyíre very sad about loosing Ben, but honored him like a true hero.

It wasn't the homecoming friends and family members dreamed of... But it was a homecoming fit for a hero like Ben. "We all know what can happen - we just didn't think it would happen to anyone that close to you," Benís friend, Brandon Butler told us.

Misty Morefield knew Ben most of her life: "He really set a goal to become a Marine and it's something Iím proud of him for."

Long-time Elmwood resident Mark Kemper served our country during the Korean War. He didn't know Ben, but felt compelled to pay his respects. "I think there's a lot of sadness but we're real proud of the young man."

As family members and Ben arrived, silence fell over the crowd... The sound of ĎAmazing Graceí filled the air.... and the realization that a friend is now home, resonated in the hearts and minds of everyone here.

"Itís not a goodbye,Ē Brandon said, holding back tears. ďItís a farewell because we'll see him again someday."

Memorials will continue for Ben. Here's what's planned for the rest of the week:

On Thursday at Elmwood High School, Benís parents and three-year old daughter will be presented the Purple Heart. Following the service, visitation will be held from 4 until 8PM. Then on Friday, June 1st, funeral services will be held. The funeral will take place at 10:30AM at the high school. Ben will be buried at Fondulac Township Cemetery in East Peoria at around 12:30.

Flags will also fly at half-staff on Friday all over the state in Benís honor. His friends are also starting a trust fund for his three-year old daughter.

From Central Illinois Proud centralillinoisproud.com 05/31/07:

A Heroís Award
Reported by: Bret Lemoine - WMBD/WYZZ TV
Thursday, May 31, 2007 @09:46pm

WMBD/WYZZ TV Ė ELMWOOD A high honor was awarded to a fallen marine Thursday afternoon in Elmwood. Marine Corporal Ben Desilets family was presented the Purple Heart.

"Iím so proud of Ben for his service to his country and bravery," Benís mother, Brenda Desilets told the crowd gathered inside Elmwood High School. In front of friends and family members, Benís mother, father and young daughter were presented the Purple Heart.

"Itís one of the highest ranking awards that the Marine Corps and Military in general has to give," said Marine Capt. John Douglass, who presented the family with the award. The Purple Heart Medal is awarded to service members for wounds received in action against enemies of the United States. Ben's family was also presented the Marine Corps Achievement Medal, on behalf of their loved ones heroic accomplishments in Iraq.

Craig Everett is Benís best friend -- they were by each others side for 12 years. "Itís not real - he can't be gone."

On May 22nd in Iraq, Ben volunteered to drive his HMMWV in front of his fellow troops. Ben's vehicle was struck by an explosive device.

During the service, Benís three year old daughter Kyra shouted, 'Daddy died... My Daddy was a hero.' Craig says his top priority now is making sure Kyra never forgets Ben. That she never forgets the sacrifice he made for all of us.

"He could have done so much else but he decided to serve the country,Ē Craig added. ďI'm proud of him for it but Iíd rather have him here."

Ben's funeral will be tomorrow at 10:30AM at Elmwood High School. He'll be buried in Fondulac Township Cemetery in East Peoria at around 12:30PM.

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